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The French healthcare system is renowned as one of the best in the world. It was ranked number 1 in 2000 by the World Health Organisation’s assessment of healthcare provisions in its 191 member states. Additionally, significant changes in the last 18 months make the state health insurance system more accessible to those living in France as expatriates. Although there are still occasions when private health insurance is advised.
From 1st January 2016 France introduced universal sickness protection, Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA), for everyone who works or resides in France. Under PUMA all residents in France, including expats, have easier access to the healthcare system.
In general, everyone living or working in France must have French health insurance. If you are from a country outside the EU you can get a health insurance card (carte vitale) after three months living in France under PUMA, regardless of your employment status.
This replaces the previous regulation where non-EU nationals could only access the French healthcare system if a number of employment or living conditions were met.
If you pay into the French social security system as an employee then you are entitled to state medical insurance in France. Although it varies by salary and size of your household, you will pay about 8% of your net income, above a minimum threshold, in contribution to state health insurance.
If you are moving to France to study, you will be recognised as a French resident once you live in France for 6 months of the year or 183 days. You will need to obtain Students' Social Security (Sécurité Sociale Etudiante).
The first step in accessing healthcare in France is to register with the French Social Security System. If you are employed in France, your company will often do this on your behalf, although it is your responsibility to ensure it has been done.
You must register with a family doctor (médecin traitant) in order to access repayments of medical costs. Family doctors in France are not allowed to advertise but they can be found on the l’Assurance Maladie.
Once you have been registered you need to provide the URSSAF (Unions de recouvrement des cotisations de Sécurité sociale et d’Allocations familiales) with a number of documents, a list of required documents can be found on their website.
Once the registration process is complete, you should receive a green card (carte vert) which is your state health insurance card. If this doesn’t happen within a reasonable period of time, you will need to follow up as it isn’t always automatically issued.
Yes, is the short answer. Depending on the medication or services you are accessing, you will have to pay upfront, however the majority of the cost will be refunded to you by the state health insurance.
Generally, this works out at about 70% for visiting a doctor or dentist and 80% of hospital costs. Amounts refunded will be sent directly to your bank account within 10 days. You are liable for the remaining balance, or can claim through top up insurance. If you have a stay in hospital, you will be provided with a voucher that you must send to your health insurance fund as soon as possible. You will also receive an invoice for the remaining 20% if you don’t have top up insurance.
There are two primary benefits to having private health insurance while working as an expatriate in France:
If you don’t want to worry about paying the balance of state healthcare costs or the administrative complexities of treatment, expat health insurance may be right for you. Contact us today for more information.
Expat Protect plans have been designed for expats and local residents in France, Benelux or Monaco. They can be purchased as a top-up health insurance or purchased as full cover.