The taxe lapin: People who fail to turn up at medical appointments to be charged in France

With an estimated 20 to 30 million people failing to turn up to scheduled medical appointments each year, the French government has decided to impose a monetary fine or taxe lapin on these no-shows in a bid to deter them from wasting time that could have been spent with other patients. 

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced his plans to charge those who fail to show up without giving 24 hours of notice a €5 fee on 7th April. 

Described as a rabbit tax – taxe lapin in French, coming from the expression to poser un lapin (to let someone down) – it is hoped that it will dissuade people with booked appointments from wasting doctors’ time and free up slots for patients in need.  

With the passage of the new ruling, doctors can choose to impose the €5 penalty at their discretion, taking into consideration what they know of the patient and their circumstances. If doctors suspect a person didn’t come in because of extenuating situations, they can opt to waive the fine.  

When the doctor believes the case to be warranted, he or she can simply report the patient, who will then be charged, as card details are usually on record at the doctor’s office.  


General practitioners in France report an average of 2.5 ‘rabbits’ per week, according to a survey completed in January by MG France. 

“A third of doctors don’t care, a third say it allows them to catch up and a third find it unbearable,” Jean-Christophe Nogrette, the president of the MG France union in Haute-Vienne, told Ouest-France at the time of the study’s publication. 

Another assessment carried out by Doctolib in February 2023 revealed that 4% of medical appointments are missed without cancellation, while that percentage rises to 10% in a report from the French National Council of the Order of Physicians and the Academy of Medicine. 

Dentists experience the most no-shows, followed by specialists and psychologists.  

The new measure is expected to come into force this autumn.  

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