In a roundtable with a French journalists’ association last week, Frank von Lennep, the country’s social security director said that 14 percent of eyeglasses’ frames and 12 percent of corrective lenses sold had been picked from the Class A products’ list since the implementation of the 100% Santé healthcare reform last year.

The so-called “A basket” includes a selection of entry-level frames and lenses with capped prices that come at zero cost to the consumer after social security and private insurance refunds. Lennep further commented that these ratios in optics could be improved in the future, as the social security is aiming at a 20 percent share of all purchases of corrective eyewear in the future.

At the same event, Albert Lautman, general manager of the Mutualité Française (MF), an association representing private health insurances, said that the same ratios already reached 20 percent in optical centers managed by MF members last year. Lautman and Mariannick Lambert, a representative of the consumers’ association France Assos, both commented that the Class A offer was not explained or promoted well enough by all opticians in the country.

Reacting to these statements in an interview with the French website Acuité, André Balbi, president of the Rassemblement des Opticiens de France, the main optical retail association in the country, said that opticians played their part in implementing the reform, selling more than 2.5 million eyeglasses in a difficult year. Balbi also stressed that Class A products were indeed of lower quality than other products and that it also was the optician’s duty to inform consumers about more qualitative equipment options.

According to the business newspaper Les Échos, 700 control visits to opticians by the French national agency in charge of competition and fraud surveillance are programmed, as well as consumers’ surveys. A similar reform was more successfully introduced for dental care, with Class A products accounting for more than 53 percent of protheses sold, for example.