Thursday, November 20, 2008


Have you experienced this? You just heard about something ridiculous and you feel sad but you laugh instead because it is just too much to bear.

This was how I reacted one day when talking to one of the carpoolers. The topic of the day was about how people take the social programs for granted. I was a bit surprised when he openly condemned his countrymen for abusing these programs while the usual conclusion I got from this kind of discussion was that these social programs are still benefiting 90% of the people in need.

So, I was telling him that I pay taxes now and that I disagree on certain social programs. He agreed with me in many situations and proceeded to describe a situation that pissed him off the most: After three weeks of summer vacations, one of his coworkers would take several weeks of sick leaves for "the anxiety that the vacation is over". That was when I felt sad but couldn't hold my laugh at the same time. It was simply too ridiculous!

Well, I know that anxiety is not something you can control. It would be dangerous for this person to come to work for risking an anxiety attack. But apparently, this happens EVERY YEAR. And who are paying for this? Us again the poor tax payers. The company will pay one part and the rest is financed by your contribution toward "accident maladie". Yes, you are paying for that person to stay away from work as "he or she is too sad that the vacation is over".

Put it in another way. Let say these sick leaves are unpaid. Do you think he or she will still take it every year? Maybe one can try to break up the vacation in shorter period instead of a continuous 3 long weeks and not during the summer?

Sorry for the rant. I still feel bitter seeing all those line of subtractions on my pay slip to finance different social programs that I do not approve.


  1. While I agree that the situation that you described is far-fetched, with respect to your own payroll check deductions, please make sure to post for us when you have your first child and you are able to maintain your job and career because your baby is accepted in la crêche for free, your family receives a substantial tax reduction for having children, when the ambulance comes for free and drives your husband with lung cancer 120miles round-trip for his chemotherapy everyday for six weeks without ever sending you a bill, and your elderly uncle is visited by a nurse weekly and provided with "meals on wheels" at no cost.

    I'm just sayin'...

  2. Ok, I have to comment here because although I agree on the whole that social security here is much better than in some other countries, I too have seen people abuse the system and it pisses me off royally that I have to pay for it.

    I know of people that take SPA treatments and get them written off as "traitements médicaux" financed by the Secu (ie. us). I know of people that buy designer glasses at 400 euros a pair and have them reimbursed by the secu (ie. us) because they are prescribed by an eye doctor. I know of people that got a nose job and then had it reimbursed as a surgical procedure (stay in the hospital after surgery and everything).

    My husband's grandmother has one of those "house call nurses" la Framéricaine speaks about. The nurse comes indeed. But she is paid by the government FOR SHOWING UP, no matter what she does, so she does the strictly minimum. If she doesn't feel mamé needs to walk she encourages her to stay in the wheel chair all day. If she's not up to sponge bathing mamé, mamé will have to wait until the next visit for a bath. If the nurse is on grève... tough luck... no one is stopping by to check on mamé, no matter what. And you can't protest nor change the nurse in question because a) you're lucky if you squeeze into the very limited list of secu-financed available house nurses that accept to do house calls and b) if you find someone else the secu wont pay for it if it's not someone on their list because the unions have vetoed this option.

    I am glad that I'll get several months off maternity leave when and if I have a child, but I work hard for my money and it pisses me off that there is absolutely no checkpoint, no control on how the social funds are spent.

    What we have to understand is that in the end, these types of "avantages" will no longer be able to be financed (even by the 40% taxes most of us pay) and that if we don't do something about the "trou de la secu" we are ALL going to be paying for it (with our ridiculous retraites, with the lower quality of medical services, etc), no matter what.


  3. Anonymous9:47 PM

    I don't have any specific examples to point out (because I've never lived there) but the reasons fned wrote about (and probably a heck of a lot more) are the same ones that made my husband swear never to work in France. After finishing college in Switzerland, he took an internship in the US and hasn't looked back. He's so intent on becoming American that after 3 or 4years, you'd think he was born here, no French accent whatsoever. He doesn't like for other people to hear him speak French, otherwise, they'll think he's a tourist (but I love it). French food though, he'll defend to the end.

    As you can see my husband is unusually anti-French (for being a Frenchman), at least in ideology. To him, socialism sounds noble, but only on paper, not in practice. This is unfortunate for me since I would like to experience living (not just vacationing) in France someday, even for just a couple of years. I guess the closest I can come to that is Tahiti, heck I'll take Switzerland too.

  4. Hi,

    "I know of people that buy designer glasses at 400 euros a pair and have them reimbursed by the secu (ie. us) because they are prescribed by an eye doctor"

    The sécu doesn't refund the glasses, only few percents. What reimbursed you was the complementary insurance, the "mutuelle". If you have a good one, they will refund your designer glasses, it depends of your contract. Anyway, the public insurance (the Sécu) doesn't pay that. The Sécu itself reimburses less and less and don't provides money for esthetic surgery and this kind of cares, excepted some specific cases :,177,177,2 --------------
    La chirurgie à visée purement esthétique ne donne généralement pas lieu à remboursement
    But :
    Les interventions plastiques sur le visage ou le corps après une maladie (cancer, paralysie), un accident de la route, des brûlures, une chute, une morsure d'animal…, sont considérées comme reconstructrices et donc prises en charge. Entrent également dans le cadre de la chirurgie réparatrice les opérations visant à corriger une malformation de naissance susceptible d'entraîner des risques pour la santé (enlèvement des grains de beauté et nævi sur la peau, intervention sur la fente labiale...).
    As you see, the Sécu will not refund any nose job if there is no serious reasons. BUT, the Mutuelles (privates complementary insurances) may do it. Regarding the original topic, I don't think what said the guy (sick leaves for "the anxiety that the vacation is over") is really true. Probably he caricatured the fact to make it funny or any reasons...

  5. Good post for getting some juicy discussion going!

  6. La Framéricaine,

    I'm not against paying for people who are in need, like the examples you were given. This post is talking about people who abuse the system. Won't you be mad in these kind of situation (I personally know these people):
    1. During a soirée a couple described us about their luxury vacation in Australia and how they spent like 10k euros. And how they got the money? From Assedic, the unemployment agency. Eventually Assedic realized they made a mistake by paying them too much and request a refund, but they couldn't since they had spent it on the vacation. When they were saying it, there was no shame at all!

    2. Classmates not showing up for classes since they are free. It is too easy to enter into a certain course and then give up.

    3. My in laws cousins were laughing at my in laws about the fact that they are working. These cousins managed to get many social benefits to meet their ends and think that people who work are just plain stupid.

    Between, in which city you know of people actually getting free childcare? I know in my areas you have to book a spot once you got pregnant and they aren't free, you still need to pay according to your income. My coworkers have to pay for a nanny to take care of their children and get partly reimbursed.

    Like fned said, all these take 40% of our income and there is still a huge hole to fill. Life is expensive that now young people face more and more problem buying their first house. If we don't control these kind of abuses we might need to pay 50 - 60% taxes and some middle income family will fall into poor income family and eventually need help instead of funding for other people.

    Your husband is not alone. I personally know of people who have migrated overseas as they do not believe in the system anymore. But like your husband, they hold on to the French food :-).


    I can't tell if he has exaggerated it, but if you have a colleague who take sick leaves every year after summer vacation, you will be mad too non?

  7. Bee Ean : I don't know what to think, but nobody there knows really the facts. It is a story of a guy who know a guy, who knows a guy... But what I am quite sure, the Secu will not refund leaves for this reasons. At least we can doubt, no need to consider that directly as a fact...