If you live in France full time, registering with the French health system is a must. It will allow you access to healthcare (as and when you need it), without paying for it in full.
The system can be quite complex. Here’s an overview:
How does the French healthcare system work?
Healthcare in France is not free at the point of need (like the NHS in the UK). If you are on the social security system, healthcare costs are partially covered by your social security regime (CPAM or MSA) and partially by an optional health insurance called a mutuelle. You can sign up for a mutuelle privately or through your employer, depending on your profession.
How do I register with the French healthcare system as an employee?
When you are employed, your company will declare you to the relevant social security regime. If you haven’t been registered before, you will be issued a temporary social security number which will appear on your payslips. It is important to understand that this is not your permanent number, and you will not benefit from healthcare coverage with this.
You must send a request “d’ouverture des droits à l’assurance maladie” to your regime with the relevant supporting documents. You will need to provide a copy of your passport, titre de séjour, birth certificate (which no longer has to be translated), proof of professional situation (work contract, payslip), proof of address, RIB, and if you have kids – the request to attach them to your rights. Sometimes your employer will do this for you, but make sure to check!
I’m self-employed, how do I register for healthcare in France?
If you are self-employed you must request your affiliation to the relevant social security regime.
Once the regime has processed your request and has all the documentation, you will receive your permanent social security number.
Your permanent social security number will look like this:
I have my social security number, now what?
Once you have your social security number, you are eligible to access the French healthcare system. However, in order to avoid paying the cost of your care up front, you will need to order a Carte Vitale (the national health insurance card).
Alternatively, you can send a request form by post to your local CPAM or MSA office.
What does my Carte Vitale cover?
Your Carte Vitale covers a certain percentage of health costs, including consultations, medicines, treatment, hospital stays, blood tests, medical transport etc. It doesn’t cover these costs in full, however. Check out this table of how much is covered by your Carte Vitale.
To get further, or full coverage, you’ll need to sign up for a “mutuelle”, a top-up health insurance. The average cost is 40€ per month for a single person, and 110€ per month for a family of 4. Costs can vary depending on the type of cover you choose.
Your children will be covered on your Carte Vitale too, either on one parent’s card or both (you decide this when you declare them), and they will also be covered by your mutuelle if you choose this option.
So there we have it, a very brief overview of the French health system. If you need any help throughout this process, get in touch. Whether you need help filling out the forms, or finding you the right mutuelle cover at the best cost, we’re here to help.