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The right to be forgotten

Since 2015, insurers, patients’ associations and the French government have been committed to facilitating access to insurance and credit for former sufferers of certain cancers and hepatitis C. Two decrees have recently been signed, which supplement the legal provisions for the existing “right to be forgotten” by imposing penalties on insurers that do not respect this right and specifying the information that must be given to people applying for insurance.

The right to be forgotten

In March 2015, the public authorities, banking and insurance professionals, the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) and patients’ associations signed a memorandum of understanding on the “right to be forgotten”. This has enabled people such as former cancer sufferers to take out loans and become property owners without being required to mention their former illness:

  • At the end of a maximum period of 10 years after the end of their treatment;
  • At the end of a maximum period of 5 years for a form of cancer that was diagnosed before the age of 18.

This allows people to obtain insurance without paying an extra premium or being excluded on grounds of the illness from which they have now recovered.  

This Memorandum of Understanding entered into force in January 2016 as part of the French Law on Modernising the Health System. 

A "reference table" incorporated into the AERAS (Obtaining Insurance and Credit with an Increased Health Risk agreement) defines, for each pathology, the period after which former patients can take out an insurance policy without any cover exclusions or having to pay an extra premium, under the same conditions as people who have not suffered from one of these illnesses. This reference table is not set in stone. Indeed, the Law stipulates that the terms and time frames shall be regularly updated in line with advances in treatment and scientific data.

Since July 2018, kidney cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, cystic fibrosis and hepatitis C are among the new types of pathologies referenced by the grid***.

Two new decrees* to protect consumers

Two decrees, published at the start of 2017, strengthen the provisions of the Law of January 2016. The first of them* relates to the penalties applicable to any insurers that do not conform to the legal time limit for the collection of medical information.

The second** covers another equally essential point: the provision of information for insurance applicants. The insurer is responsible for giving an “information document on the right to be forgotten” to applicants for credit repayment insurance, at the same time as the normal risk declaration form. When taking out creditor protection insurance, people falling within the scope of the AERAS agreement must be informed of their “right to be forgotten”. The reference table must be given to them.

The regulator for the banking and insurance sectors – the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR) – will be responsible for monitoringcompliance with the "right to be forgotten”.

Bernard Spitz, President of the French Insurance Federation, considers that: “The introduction of the right to be forgotten will facilitate access to creditor protection insurance for former cancer sufferers. It is a step forward that our profession can be proud of and which can be extended to all pathologies according to medical advances and access to the medical data required to assess the risk”.

* Decree no. 2017-173 of 13 February 2017 specifying the procedures for informing applicants for creditor protection insurance if they present an increased risk due to their state of health or disability

**Decree no. 2017-147 of 7 February 2017 relating to sanctions applying to insurance organisations for non-compliance with the provisions of article L. 1141-5 of the French Public Health Code

*** https://www.ffa-assurance.fr/content/convention-aeras-de-nouvelles-avancees

Source : Jean Vilanova Professions de Santé newsletter, March 2017 - www.lamedicale.fr

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