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Healthcare in France > Healthcare in France

Healthcare in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Summary: Expats often ask if health insurance is free in France or if you need health insurance to go to France. Here is basic information about the French healthcare system.

Expats in France - Healthcare in France

The healthcare system in France is a universal healthcare system - Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA) - meaning that all residents in France must be covered by law. PUMA enables both non-EU and EU expats to apply for health coverage after living in France for 3 months. Prior to PUMA, EU expats had to wait 5 years to enroll.

Expats must meet certain criteria before they are eligible, and healthcare is not free for expats in France. As with other people in France, if you are working you will have roughly 8% of your salary taken automatically to help fund the system. Whether expats qualify or not, it is a requirement that expats have health insurance at all times while living there.

Unlike systems in other countries that have adopted a fully socialized healthcare system, France's version has public, non-profit, and fully private elements that combine to comprise the system.

Official French healthcare coverage information is available on Amelie.fr English Pages. Definitely read their description of different situations to help determine how you will be considered when they assess your paperwork. Contact information there will help you find assistance in English via telephone.

You likely will need to register with CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie). The telephone contact information found at the link above above (Amelie.fr English Pages) will help you find the correct information if you cannot speak French and are looking for the appropriate address of your local office.

Those that enroll will receive their Carte Vitale. It is a "smart card containing the administrative information needed to take care of your care . The health professional you see (doctor, dentist, etc.) uses your Vitale card to create an electronic care sheet (which replaces the paper care sheet ). The information is sent directly to your health insurance organization. Thus, you are refunded within 5 days without having to do anything."

As you move through the application process, it's a good idea to ask repeatedly what you need to do to ensure you receive your Carte Vitale as expeditiously as possible. Just because you receive approval to access the system doesn't necessarily mean you will automatically be issued a card. That can create some complications getting access to care or receiving reimbursement if you end up needing care sooner than you anticipate.

If you are moving to France as an employee of a company, they almost always will get you enrolled in the French social security system.

Most people, expats included, opt to obtain private health insurance to cover the costs of what isn't reimbursable through the public system.

Expats living in France interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Entrepreneurs, Digital nomads and others that work for themselves must enroll through the Securite Social Independants.

As an aside, all insurers in France - public, non-profit and private - line up health care from a broad pool of public and private institutions and providers. Check out this explanation of how France uses the public and private healthcare sectors to make their system work.

Links Cited and Other Useful Links:

Amelie.fr English Pages

French Social Security Portal: French social security system

France Healthcare Tips: 13 Healthcare & Health Insurance Tips for Expats in France

Wikipedia: Healthcare in France

List of Hospitals in France: Healthcare in France

World Health Organization: France

Public & Private: France uses the public and private healthcare sectors

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in France from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Dec 05, 2018

First Published: Dec 05, 2018

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in France from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

13 Healthcare & Health Insurance Tips for Expats in France

Expats in France share tips about applying for the Carte Vitale, PUMA, supplemental health insurance, English-speaking doctors in France, having a baby and more.

Expats in France share tips about applying for the Carte Vitale, PUMA, supplemental health insurance, English-speaking doctors in France, having a baby and more....

Healthcare in Nimes, France

Learn French! As in any other country, seek a second opinion for serious problems.

Healthcare in Epinal, France

It's a small town, so most doctors don't use English much. If you must communicate in English, it would help to research some of the necessary terminology beforehand (perhaps write your questions in F

Healthcare in Bordeaux, France

An expat in Bordeaux talks about hospitals, the importance of supplementary health insurance, the need to keep your own medical records since doctors don't keep them and prescription medicine costs a

Answer Questions about Healthcare in France

Help others moving to France by answering a set of questions about health insurance, public healthcare in France, prescription medicine, quality of medical care and emergency services.

Having-a-Baby-In-FranceExpats Talk about What it's Like Having a Baby in France

Read recent baby reports submitted for La Rochelle and Nice.

If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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