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14 Expats Talk about Health Insurance and Healthcare in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jan 22, 2023

Summary: Expats and global nomads in France share their experiences with health insurance, healthcare in France, local hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care and more.

How are healthcare services France?

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

"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," mentioned another expat living in Bordeaux.

"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 an expat in Epinal.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive 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," remarked another expat in Epinal.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in France

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What are emergency services like in France?

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," mentioned another expat in Bordeaux.

"~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," commented one expat who moved to Epinal, France.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Are common 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," said one expat living in Bordeaux.

"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," mentioned another expat in Epinal.

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"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 one expat who moved to Epinal.

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What have your experiences during the pandemic with the local healthcare system been like?

We asked members about local medical facilities in France, they wrote...

"I herniated a disc in my back during lockdown and my treatment was swift and ongoing. I was able to have physiotherapy and to see a specialist. I am extremely satisfied with my treatment," mentioned another expat in St Nicolas du Pelem.

"During the epidemic, the doctors here worked around the clock to bring it under control," commented one expat who moved to Bordeaux, France.

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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!)," said another person in La Rochelle.

"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)," remarked another expat in Nice.

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Are healthcare services good in France?

We asked people if they have access to good medical care in France. They wrote:

"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," explained one expat.

"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 person in Aude and Herault Departments.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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