France has always been a pioneer of smart card technology, first deploying its use in the healthcare industry in the early ‘90s. Simplifying the reimbursement system was essential in this country where nearly 63 million healthcare claims were made in August 2006 alone.
The SESAM-Vitale scheme introduced a smart "Carte Vitale", containing data to simplify administration, slash costs and provide a faster, more efficient and secure way of submitting claims. The scheme now includes some 53 million patient cards, 600,000 professional cards, 200,000 readers, 20,000 terminals for updating cards, 230 software applications and 25 servers. Gemalto provided the operating system, personalization services and cards.
The second generation, Carte Vitale 2, will be deployed over four years starting in March 2007 with family cards issued to every person over 16 years of age eligible for French social security coverage.
Nationwide, Vitale 2 cards will gradually replace the Vitale 1 cards distributed in 1998/1999. Vitale 2 includes enhanced security features such as a new operating system, cryptographic capabilities and larger memory. Because protecting privacy is of the utmost importance, specific attention was also paid to the personalization processes in order to ensure a high level of security for each individual's data.