One of the main advantages of living in France is benefiting from a world-class healthcare system. In fact, France has the 7th best healthcare system in the world. And under public Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA), France ensures every French resident, including expats, has access to affordable, top-notch health care with public health insurance.
But there’re many things you should know about French health insurance, including what’re the requirements, what documents you need, and what expenses it covers. So in this guide, we’ve explained everything you need to know about French healthcare and health insurance.
All residents of France, including expats, have access to the public healthcare system in France. The French government finances the healthcare system through national social security contributions. But to access this healthcare system inexpensively, you need health insurance.
Expats who plan to live in France for more than 6 months are eligible for public health insurance after 3 months of residence. What type of public health insurance will cover your medical expenses depends on your situation.
You’re covered by the Student Social Security (Sécurité Sociale Etudiante) if you’re a full-time Non-EU student under the age of 28 in French institutions for more than 3 months.
EU students can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to cover their medical expenses during their study program.
All working residents in France, including freelancers, expats, and business owners, contribute about 8% of their monthly salaries to national healthcare. In exchange, health insurance covers a significant proportion of medical expenses, but not all of it.
People who earn below the threshold don’t contribute to healthcare and receive completely free public-funded healthcare (CMU-complémentaire)
Currently, you’ll qualify for public-funded healthcare if you are:
To register, you’ll need:
Once you gather all these documents, you can send them by post or present them in person at your local CPAM. Once CPAM receives your application, they’ll decide whether you’re eligible for public health insurance. If you earn below the threshold, then you’ll qualify for free public-funded healthcare (CMU-complémentaire).
Then, you must request your health insurance card (carte vitale).
While waiting for your health insurance card, you can ask for a temporary insurance card (attestation de couverture sociale) to cover your medical expenses. Receiving the health card will take a while, so we advise you to apply for a temporary card.
Your health insurance card carte vitale includes all the necessary information about you, such as your registered GP, details of your employer, your medical background, and if you’ve got private insurance. You must make sure the information is always up to date. You can update your carte vitale at any time by putting it in the green box at CPAM offices, pharmacies, and clinics.
Expats must reside in France for 3 months before accessing public health insurance. So with private health insurance (mutuelle), you can avoid unnecessary expensive medical bills during this period.
Private health insurance also covers the remaining medical costs that public health insurance doesn’t. You can also complement your public health insurance by getting private health insurance (mutuelle) to cover expenses that public health insurance doesn’t, such as visits to psychologists and osteopaths.
Basic private health insurance costs about €40 monthly in France. However, this price will change depending on any add-ons, for instance, extra dental care (e.g., teeth whitening), age, and pre-existing medical conditions. Also, some private health insurance providers offer basic family packages for €90.
Like most organizations in France, most health insurance companies in France communicate in French. But, some expat-friendly private health insurance companies use English. Here’s the some of them:
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