Healthcare in France

If you will be moving to France or are planning to spend significant amounts of time there, it is helpful to understand how the healthcare system in France works.

The good news is that the French healthcare system is renowned for being one of the best in the world. You will however need to understand what your entitlements to healthcare in France will be.

We have provided some general information and guidance below to assist with this, however specific advice may need to be sought as circumstances vary.

If I become ill when I am living in France, will I have to pay for healthcare in France?

Everyone working and living in France has to register and contribute to state health insurance known as Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU). You’ll also have to pay a monthly state health insurance premium. This covers approximately 80% of healthcare costs for treatment in France.

The state health insurance is administered by the social security system (Sécurité Sociale), and the local state health authority in France (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie aka CPAM).

You will need to register with CPAM (unless you are self employed in which case there is a separate state run insurance scheme for the self-employed called Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI).

Once you’ve registered you’ll be issued a card showing your entitlement to healthcare in France (Carte Vitale), which you need to show when seeing a health professional or going into hospital.

For residents in France, a “mutuelle” (voluntary top-up insurance cover) is available to cover the cost of healthcare that is not covered by a Carte Vitale.

EU Citizens

If you are going to retire or live but not work in France, and are currently living within a country in the EEA (European Economic Area), a certificate of health entitlement is usually available for you. This means that you will get access to healthcare in France on the same terms as French nationals, except that you may not need to pay French social security health contributions for the duration of the certificate.

These certificates come as different forms, depending on your circumstances. You will need to complete and present the relevant form to your local CPAM.

In most cases this will be an S1 form (there are different forms for cross border workers or if you are unemployed). These forms are provided by the social security authority in your home country if it is in the EEA.

If you enter employment/business the S1 ceases to be valid, and you will be required to pay social security health contributions.

If you are of retirement age and receive a state pension from a EEA country, your S1 form will usually cover you on a permanent basis. The precise rules of eligibility of the S1 differ between countries within the EEA however.

For the UK following the referendum vote to leave the EU, the S1 arrangements remain in place until the UK actually does leave the EU, and may well still be in place after Brexit. It will however depend on the terms of the departure.

EU citizens who are visiting France and are not resident are entitled to emergency state healthcare treatment on production of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Non EU Citizens

If you are a non-EU citizen and living in France you will usually have to pay for some public healthcare and public healthcare insurance in France.

If you will not be a resident in France, you should ensure you have health cover under a travel insurance or private healthcare insurance policy.

You should contact your local CPAM to find out more about your entitlements under the French Healthcare system.

Do you need to pay for medical prescriptions in France?

France does not have a set prescription charge and you will usually be required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the medicine.

A percentage of the costs of prescription medicines in France are covered by the state healthcare system, you will have to pay for the rest. The percentage you will have to contribute varies depending on the type of medicine.

Can I have private medical insurance in France?

You can take out private health insurance in France however it may not remove any obligation you have to contribute to the state healthcare system in France. It may however be advisable to have to ensure that you are fully covered.

How do you contact the Emergency Services in France?

You can contact the Emergency services in France by calling 112.

For further information about moving to France, download our Total Buying Abroad Guide to France here.