Cultural advice needed - how to deal with a French ****-up

I need some tips on how to go apesh1t with CPAM…

Not helped by delays from UK DWP, after multiple beggings to them not to leave a gap between my S1’s, it does indeed look like I have been thrown out of the French health system. For no good reason other than the collapse of any efficiency in UK public administration, combined with what looks like someone in CPAM took no note of the fact that I’d had a rendezvous at CPAM, provided a full set of documents, explained everything and been told everything submitted correctly and nothing more required.

The S1’s are issued back to back so there was no actual gap. It’s just that during delays in the UK getting the second one issued, the DWP kept telling me they would backdate it so me getting into a panic about having no access to medical treatmwnt did not matter. Nor my concern that I could get chucked out of the French health system due to their delays leading to other issues, and potentially having to redo extremely onerous and stressful admin to get reinstated if their delays caused this regardless of any backdating.

Now I’ve had a message in ameli saying I’m no longer in the French health system. Having visited them as above 7-10 days before. The message telling me this, was dated the day AFTER an earlier message telling me new S1 received and I am in the system. So whoever sent the letter chucking me out of the system hadn’t even looked in the file where the new S1 and my visit to them doubtless was. That visit took a lot of effort to make to them due circs and it would be extremely difficult to repeat right now.

Following that last week, this week arrived hard copy form to complete to nominate “medecin traitant”. I have a medecin traitant but since the retirement of the only other doctor in the area, she’s totally overwhelmed. So it looks like thanks to CPAM inefficiency I have no doctor anymore and may not be able to get another one.

Today a form arrived out of the blue to apply for a Carte Vitale. I have a Carte Vitale functioning perfectly that I’ve had since last July or so but I really, really don’t want to go through the months of stress applying for another one.

I’m about to go ballistic but somehow I think “your person didn’t even bother to look in the file or take account of my visit and the docs handed to you, nor the fact that I am in the system as confirmed by CPAM themselves the previous day, before chucking me out of the system”… is going to go down well. I’m not even sure they will admit the functionary concerned made a mistake - even if they know it - and will force me through the process again after their own error.

I have a nasty feeling even if a French functionary would admit their mistake, they would still insist I suffer through the whole process again. It took months of stress last year and CPAM lost documents including 1 very expensive one.

How do I deal with this? I’m so angry I don’t even trust myself to call them right now

1 Like

Personally, I’d step back for a few hours, deep breath and then arrange to revisit the CPAM office to explain in a calm way what has happened and the sequence of events. I think that approach is the best imo, to get whoever you see on your side, to get the situation resolved as soon as possible. There are situations where direct more heavy handed talk can help, but don’t think this will be one of them. I also felt a little frustrated with CPAM as recently visited the doctor, after not seeing one for many many years, payed the 25€ but just received a reimbursement of just over 6€, so really don’t understand that - not the amount, but the principle :roll_eyes:

Good luck, but stay calm!

It is not physically possible for me to visit them again in the short term, due circs as stated. Even medium term will be enormously difficult. And it needs resolving faster than that.

1 Like

Sorry to hear this Karen, hope you can get it resolved amicably and QUICKLY.

1 Like

Whilst I am sure you are totally competent to deal with this yourself, I wonder if this is a moment when an intermediary might help you? Not least because they have no emotional involvement in it.
I had problems with my bank and a French friend phoned on my behalf and proceeded to tell them how appalled she was at they way I had been treated and how badly this reflected on France (I kid you not). It was sorted.
Or what about France Services, mentioned on another thread?

1 Like

Have you been in your ameli account and downloaded a new attestation, what does it say?
If your attestation says you are covered, and you have a carte vitale that works, I would simply ignore everything.
My experience is that anything that comes by post from CPAM is out of date long before it arrives, they must literally send letters by snail.

So sorry about this Karen! Just to echo another suggestion that if your ameli attestation is not valid then try and see if France services or a local Pimms office (part of France services) can help.

Pm me of you need any phone calls making.

1 Like

First off I would write an official complaint to the CPAM office, making it clear it is a complaint and if not dealt with you will be escalating it to the mediator. And that it is inexcusable to leave someone without access to health care.And copy this to anyone you can think of - your deputy, maire, défenseur des droits etc.

I would then echo having a go with France Services, if there is an office more accessible to you.

Or swallowing your pride and phoning the Ameli English speaking helpline?

Read the formal Ameli complaint procedure too. In France it is important to have taken the exact steps set out otherwise like snakes and ladders you will keep getting sent back to the beginning.

1 Like

Thank you to all for your advice. I will try a combination of it all.

Firstly on the offchance Sandcastle is right and they’ve updated since their messages were sent, over the weekend I will check in case despite their messages a valid attestation is there. The snail mails with blank forms that arrived requesting me to apply for the médécin traitant and the carte vitale I already had, though, make me think the person in CPAM that doesn’t check in the file for updates, visit notes or new documents, before they send out letters and cancelling cover, has indeed gone on a Vlad the Destroyer mission on my file.

No point in trying to phone CPAM tomorrow. It’s the Friday before a Bank Holiday Monday. So geting through and getting action followed through is risky. Much better to call the English speaking line on Tuesday.

That will also give me time to calm down and meanwhile I will write out a timeline ready to send.

I do not know if subtlety will work. But taking your advice into account, I have decided to approach the English speaking line ‘to ask them to help me understand the facts and dates’. Refering to my timeline, mentioning a message was left dated Tuesday to say my new S1 has been accepted and I am in the system and then on Wednesday a message has been left stating I am not in the system. Ask them to explain,with an air of puzzlement. When they can’t, ask them what should I do.

Either on that call or a following one, mention the request to find a new MT and apply for the CV I already have, and how stressful this was last year and how onerous it would be to have lost my medicsl cover, my MT and my carte vitale due to what appears to be administrative failure to take updates into account bla bla. I will think of words that let the perpetrator (and thus the institution) save face.

Then mention if it is necessary to repeat the administrative steps which took so many months last year, and especially as it appears I am now without medical cover due to this error, I have been advised to make a formal complaint and to pursue it with the mediator if it is not corrected promptly…
However I do not think this should be necessary and ask them to let me know within 10 working days if they have a solution.

I’ll report back :slight_smile:

My first conversation with the tax man after submitting my first ever declaration this week, was a cakewalk in comparison. But that’s another story :-).

I have been in dental pain for months and it’s bad enough even trying to find a dentist here. Let alone having found one with a long wait for an appointment, but can’t book till I know they will see I am covered in the system.


Why not look right now. It only takes a minute or two.

Stressed out of my brain Sandcastle.
Better when I am calm.


Book! The amount of dental work that is covered by the system is not generous. Most is down to your mutuelle, and there is no reason that should be affected. Book! I had a root canal before my CV arrived and dentist held off billing until it came through. Book! You can always cancel/postpone. Book!


Cultural advice - going balistic (to use your word) with French authorities is much more normal in France than in some other countries, and is much more likely to get a result than in some other countries. Being tough and standing up to yourself in France is usually (but not always) fairly respected. If you wishy-washily say you are just a bit disappointed, they’re more likely to see you as being weak and they’ll walk all over you, you won’t get the result you want.
However, the big difference is that if you don’t speak French 100% fluently and without a trace of a foreign accent, it would probably backfire. Shouting down the phone with a funny foreign accent will probably just make them laugh.
Do you have a French friend with a “firm” personality who could help?

1 Like

Not sure I’d agree with the ballistic point actually - Over the years, after going ballistic, I’ve found that I get the best results now by being calm, but direct, succinct and fact based, so you minimize discussion. In my experience, going ballistic just alienates the person and gets their back up = no/minimal help. I also use the approach of escalating if the person doesn’t help/deliver. ‘Horse to water’ and ‘organ grinder and monkey’ spring to mind! Be firm, remain civil, and don’t waste time speaking to the wrong person!


I don’t agree with ballistic either. What I’ve found works in most situations is to get ferociously angry, and extremely obviously so, without going ballistic and getting red in the face and screaming. Exactly the opposite really as being icily polite but completely unbudgeable. And repeating the issue as often as it takes.


Don’t want to be alarmist but that happened to me years ago when changing caisse, back in the days of the RSI, MSA et al. The person responsable for the mistake dis at least phone me to explain and appologise… and Ask me not to use my carte vitale for a few weeks/monthd while they sorted it out
just keep your feuilles de soins etc and you’ll be reimbursed once the new one is sorted :wink:

1 Like

as the constipated mathematician once said “it can always be worked out with a pencil” :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

I’ll get my coat…


I assume from your username that you live in the Lot and are dealing with Cahors? We have just been through exactly the same thing with Cahors. My wife was conjoint under my S1 but when she retired last year and got her own S1 we decided to set up her own account with Ameli. Yes, the UK immediately cancelled her rights under my S1 and we have taken nearly 6 months to finally sort it out.

Every time we messaged Cahors we got a reply from someone different and one minute they had the new S1 then they claimed not to have received it. Then they said her rights were reinstated then she no longer had any rights. Countless times we were told to go to the pharmacie and metre a jour her carte vitale, but it never worked. A neighbour spoke to them and was promised all was Ok….it wasn’t!

I guess this all sounds familiar!!

I don’t have a magic answer for you but just to say, with no help from Cahors, we eventually managed to set up a new separate Ameli account (as opposed to under my name) for my wife using her existing social security number and voila it all went through. We rushed down to the pharmacie and her existing carte vitale worked. You may need to send a new RIB to Ameli, but you don’t need a new carte vitale despite what Cahors tells you.

We were advised by our neighbour to use France Services and indeed we had an appointment until things sorted themselves out.

Good luck!

Welcome Shermanbury and thanks for posting

Oh dear, bits of what you are posting sound dreadfully familiar. I am just going to hope Sandcastle is right and they’ve done it really, even when they say they haven’t. I’ll be going online tomorrow to have a look-see.

They will just think you are a bit disappointed, not that you are incandescent with rage.
Don’t shout, shouting means you’ve lost.
You have to be very clear and firm.