Social security fraud with Vitale cards

Update on supernumerary Vitale cards. Questioned by a parliamentary committee on February 11, the Director of Social Security said that nearly 2.6 million excess Vitale cards were in circulation in France. A figure largely revised down a few days later, but which is far from reducing the impact of social fraud.


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58.3 million Vitale cards in circulation

Mathilde Lignot-Leloup, the Director of Social Security, spoke before the committee of inquiry into the fraud of social benefits on February 11. She notably presented the results of the actions implemented by Social Security to fight against social fraud. In France, there are currently 55.7 million potential policyholders at La Sécu, and 58.2 million Vitale cards in circulation, a surplus of 2.6 million. These figures were, however, revised downwards by the Social Security Department in a press release dated February 13. The DSS then confirmed that 58.3 million active vital cards were in circulation at the end of 2019 against 59.4 million at the end of 2018. The differential results from a vast cleaning and census carried out by Social Security in 2019. According to the press release from the DSS, the number of so-called “supernumerary” Vitale cards (schemes where the number of valid Vitale cards is greater than the number of insured persons) officially stood at 609,000 2019, and did not concern the general scheme.

An active card, but no rights open

In France, a Vitale card is allocated to any beneficiary of health insurance over the age of 16, regardless of their affiliation scheme. It shows the social security number of the insured. This number is assigned at birth to any person born on French territory, or when registering for the first time with the health insurance scheme for people born abroad. The so-called “supernumerary” Vitale cards would therefore be active cards associated with Social Security numbers obtained via fraudulent documents or kept by write-off policyholders. The DSS recalls that having an active Vitale card does not necessarily give access to associated social benefits. The primary function of a Vitale card was to make it possible to dematerialize the payment of health costs or the reimbursement of care. The Vitale card of a written off member cannot be used, since the associated social registration number is no longer active in the system.

Expensive fraud

The extent of social fraud was the subject of many debates and controversies in 2019. According to a former magistrate of the National Delegation to the Fight against Fraud, the amount would amount to 14 billion euros. Based on data from 2011, he estimates that 1.8 million Social Security numbers illegally obtained by people born abroad. By extrapolation, he also estimates that the total social assistance received by means of these false numbers would amount to 14 billion euros. These figures strongly contested by the national old-age insurance fund (CNAV, which is responsible for the registration of people born abroad), are however currently the subject of a “parliamentary exploration mission” led by Jean-Marie Vanlerenberghe, the special rapporteur of the Senate social affairs committee. The Social Affairs Committee of the Senate assessed in September 2019 social fraud to Social Security at 140 million euros per year.


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