Every year, billions of euros are illegally misappropriated, jeopardizing the balance of France’s social security system. According to the Cour des Comptes, social security fraud represents a loss of earnings of 6 to 8 billion euros a year. Faced with this situation, the government is planning to merge the Vitale card, used for healthcare reimbursements, with the identity card, an essential document for identifying citizens. This measure is designed to enhance security and combat fraud more effectively.
Carte vitale: a vector for fraud
The Vitale card, introduced in France several decades ago, facilitates access to care and reimbursements for insured persons. However, it is also used fraudulently by certain individuals. The most common types of fraud include misuse of a third party’s Vitale card, falsification of data to obtain unjustified reimbursements, and the illegal sale of drugs reimbursed by social security. The fraudster thus succeeds in fraudulently recovering money.
These frauds represent a considerable cost for our healthcare system, diverting resources that could be used to improve patient care. To combat these practices, the government is seeking to strengthen the security of the Vitale card by building on the technological advances of the electronic national identity card (CNIe) in service since 2021.
Securing data with the CNIe chip
The electronic identity card (CNIe) is a new-generation ID card incorporating a microchip containing personal information. This chip offers enhanced security and can store biometric data such as fingerprints or facial photographs. By merging the Vitale card with the identity card, it would be possible to further secure the data of those insured by social security, by intrinsically bringing them together in a single document.
The idea would be to use the CNIe chip or QR code to store the social security identifier. Each time the Vitale card is used, the data will be authenticated by this device, considerably reducing the risk of falsification or misuse. What’s more, this merger would facilitate the implementation of enhanced controls, such as biometric verification, to prevent identity theft.
The first challenge will be to determine where social security information is stored, since the aim is to separate it from identity data. The government, with the support of the CNIL, has yet to decide on this issue, although the CNIL seems to favor adding the social security number to the chip, using an “electronic seal” to encrypt the identifier and make it more secure.
What’s the timetable?
The merger of the Vitale card and the identity card is an ambitious project that will take time to implement. For the time being, no precise timetable has been unveiled, but it is possible that this system will be phased in gradually, when expired ID cards are renewed. This decision is part of a broader plan to combat social fraud, which includes other measures such as tighter controls and stiffer penalties.