THE FRENCH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.
Moving abroad always comes loaded with a lot of paperwork. One of the most important things you will have to take care of as soon as you live abroad is your health insurance . As an expat in France, you are quite lucky that you don’t have to spend all your money on medical expenses, as the healthcare system in France is one of the most subsidized and affordable in the world. Let’s see what this country has to offer you.
French healthcare in a nutshell
The French healthcare system for foreigners (non-EU) is called PUMA (Protection Universelle Maladie);
All French residents are required to have health insurance ;
The cost of a medical visit in France is approximately 23 euros (without coverage);
The approximate cost of headache medications is 2.20 euros (16 x 500mg);
The French social security system covers 70% of the cost of his treatment.
How does the French health system work?
This question has been on my mind since the moment I decided to move to France . It took me a while to get up and finally take care of everything I need, not only because the paperwork is super complicated, but also because it is incredibly difficult to find information on this topic. Now that I know everything, I can finally share my experience with you! So, let’s start with an overview of the health system in France . It will help you understand what you should do and why.
The public health system in France
Every French resident must be covered by social security . Expenses are regulated by law and depend on your personal income. This means that you will pay a specific percentage of your income to the “sécurité sociale” (social security). As all employees benefit from the plans subsidized by the companies, your boss will pay another part of these contributions.
The social security system covers 70% of medical costs in France if you need treatment. In case you have long-term medical problems, even 100% can be covered by the State. But what happens to the remaining 30%? Well, you’ll have to pay for them yourself, unless you sign up for some sort of additional private health insurance .
The private health system in France
As a French resident who has subscribed to public health insurance , you can also subscribe to what is known as a “mutuelle” . This complementary health insurance in France can cover the remaining 30% of your treatment expenses that are not paid by public insurance. Not all insurance includes all kinds of treatments! Think about what you may need in the future and choose your “mutuelle” based on it.
If you work for a company, it should be paying a “mutuelle”. This means that at least half of the additional cost can be covered by your employer.
Medical help in France for Foreigners
Health care in France is based on an insurance system and, as I have already mentioned, it is mandatory to have health insurance in France. If you are unemployed (yet) or self-employed, you will not be able to subscribe to public health insurance . In this case, you should make sure that you are covered by local or expatriate private health insurance .
For some years now, expatriates living in France have had access to a new healthcare system for foreigners called PUMA (Protection Universelle Maladie). This system allows you to access public health after having been a French resident for three months .
If you have trouble finding a job in France and your family’s income does not reach a certain level, you can benefit from the CMU-C , which is free health coverage .
How to benefit from paid sick leave?
In case you get sick and cannot go to work, the first thing you should do is go see a doctor . If you stay home, there is no way you can claim paid sick leave . The doctor will give you an official sick note (if not, ask for it!) that you can send to your employer. This is it for regular sick leave. Easy, right?
However, to qualify for paid sick leave (up to six months), you generally must have worked at least 150 hours in the past 90 days or, in the past six months, paid social security contributions equal to at 1,015 times the minimum hourly wage.
How to enroll in the French health system?
If you start working in France and you are lucky, your employer will enroll you in social security. After this you can enroll in French healthcare . For people who were born outside of France this is usually not the case, so you have to do it yourself. But don’t worry, registering for social security and health care in France is not as complicated as it seems at first, and if you’re lucky it won’t take more than 15 minutes. You just have to follow these steps:
Open a French bank account ! You won’t get far without it.
Find your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office, for example on the Ameli website .
Gather all the documents they will ask for: passport, proof of residence, proof of address (for example, a recent utility bill), birth certificate, visa (if you need one), and proof of income if you want to apply for the CMU-C .
In the same office, register for the national health card (carte vitale).
Once you have your “carte vitale”, don’t forget to take it to the doctor every time you go to see him! This is necessary to access free medical care or to claim reimbursement after your appointment.
Useful medical phrases in French
In case you don’t speak a single word of French, here are the most important words you need to know.
Health insurance – assurance maladie
Prescription – ordonnance
Hospital – hospital
emergencies – urgency
Family doctor – medecin généraliste
Doctor – medicine
Medicine – medically
Sick – malade
sick leave – arrêt maladie
I would like to make an appointment with the doctor. – Je voudrais prendre un rendez-vous avec le médecin.