Tuileries Gardens in Paris
Tuileries Gardens in Paris
Tuileries Gardens in Paris

Guide to Healthcare in France

13 Expats Talk about Healthcare and Health Insurance in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 21, 2020

Summary: Expats living in France talk about healthcare, proximity to hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care in France, availability of prescription medicines and more.

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Expats in France offer insight into the quality of healthcare in France, proximity to hospitals, cost of health insurance and more.

What advice do you have for expats having a baby in France?

We asked expat moms who gave birth in France about their experiences and advice they have for other moms to be. They said:

"Do take advantage of the full range of preparation options offered by French social security. Do have the monthly visits and ultrasounds, do check into your chosen hospital starting on the 4th month. Make sure you get your paperwork with social security in order. Do trust the midwives - they definitely know their stuff. Don't get hung up on the possible dangers and the guilt laid on you for gaining too much weight (in my case, 50 lbs. + for each baby, but I lost all of it afterwards and still fit into my "before kids" jeans at age 45!)," commented an expat living in La Rochelle, France.

"Using word of mouth is the best way to find a doctor. Also join a English speaking moms group while you are expecting. I was a little hesitant to join a group before I had given birth, but met a lovely group of women, many of whom I am still in contact with now. It was also through these women that I found my pediatrician who spoke English. (Dr. Bessier in Valbonne)," said another expat in Nice.

"To take advantage of the high quality care, the single rooms, the number of midwives available, but to ignore all advice about feeding schedules, sleeping routines etc. I also threw away the vitamin K and flouride supplements once we got home," remarked another in Pontivy.

"Realise that there are many choices available -- the whole range available worldwide is available in France," explained one expat.

"Register early!!!! Even if you aren't sure where to give birth, at least register somewhere so that you have a spot held for you," said another person in Paris.

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What are medical services in France like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in France, they replied:

"Yes, France has great medical facilities. They also do not turn away foreigners in need. Do make sure your insurance is up-to-date anyway though," commented an expat living in Marseille, France.

"Our GP is absolutely wonderful. the best doctor we have ever had and we had some good ones back in the UK. The specialists we have had to see in the last 3 yrs have also all be excellent and the notion of a waiting list is virtually unheard of. If you need physiotherapy, then an appointment is usually avavailable within a couple of days, rather than weeks," said another expat in Aude and Herault Departments.

"I am covered by my US insurance but medical-dental care here is so inexpensive that I rarely make the deductable. The care is excellent. Because of the large numbers of European retirees, many people are multi-lingual," remarked another in Pezenas.

"Record keeping is your responsibility and you can't do it all online. Doctors don't keep a health file for you. Top-up supplemental insurance is needed to completely cover costs," commented an expat living in Bordeaux, 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 French)," said another expat in Epinal.

"Learn French! As in any other country, seek a second opinion for serious problems," remarked another expat in Nimes.

What do you think about the cost of medical care in France?

"Very affordable, even before I was on the healthcare system I paid less than 100 euros for full x-rays and a cast for a broken wrist. With healthcare, it's simply covered thanks to higher taxes," commented an expat living in Epinal, France.

What are emergency services like?

When we asked about emergency services, members in France wrote:

"A number of hospitals [in Bordeaux] are nearby. Have not used emergency services, but they are provided by local fire departments. Highly personalized care at local hospital. Hospitals, clinics and specialists are all available to the public," commented an expat living in Bordeaux, France.

"~2 km (other side of town) Hospital Center Emile Durkheim Emergency services great -- doctors speak English but with some hesitance. I went with a broken wrist and received thorough treatment with x-rays and a cast, all taking just a couple hours. If you indicate you speak French, they'll speak very quickly. But they do explain in simple English if needed. Public hospital," said another expat in Epinal.

Are most prescription medications available in France?

"Prescriptions are filled immediately at local pharmacies that are very well supplied and staffed. They have never been unable to supply my prescribed medications immediately. Cost is zero with supplemental insurance," commented an expat living in Bordeaux, France.

"Yes - tons of pharmacies in town, including at least one open on Sunday. I don't have any prescriptions but my husband gets costs like glasses and contacts and shoe inserts covered through the government health insurance system," said another expat in Epinal.

"yes, at any pharmacy many need prescriptions but more and more are available without less expensive than in the US If they don't have it in stock, it is ordered and comes the next day or even that afternoon," remarked another expat in Nimes.

"The hospital is on the edge of town but accessible by bus. Good quality care and the doctors speak English. The hospital is public and very affordable even without French health care," commented an expat living in Epinal, France.

Expats in France may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Get a Quote

Expats in France may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

Allianz Care Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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

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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

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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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Tuileries Gardens in Paris
Allianz Care Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Healthcare in FranceHealthcare in France

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.

Expat Healthcare Advice in France13 Expats Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in France

Expats living in France talk about their own experiences with healthcare, hospital visits, emergencies, finding a doctor, buying health insurance in France and more.

13-Healthcare--Health-Insurance-Tips-for-Expats-in-France13 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....

france healthcare faqFrance Healthcare FAQ

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about healthcare and health insurance for expats in France.

france healthcare infoFrance Healthcare Info

Additional information about healthcare and health insurance for foreigners in France.

healthcare in NimesHealthcare in Nimes, France

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

healthcare in EpinalHealthcare 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 BordeauxHealthcare 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 -

healthcare surveyAnswer 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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