Health and Medical Care

There is a high quality health care system in France both privately and publicly. It is named by the World Health Organisation to have the best performing system in the world in terms of availability and experienced health care providers.

Whether you decide to have private insurance as well as free public insurance, you will be more than satisfied with the standard of care that will be provided.

Public Healthcare

Majority of the healthcare is covered by the state via a public health insurance scheme regardless of age, income and status. The public health care has more than 1,000 regional; general and university hospitals which have all have good high standards.

The French public health insurance system is known as Sécurité Sociale. This provides basic cover to individuals who qualify and this is generally funded by tax contributions from salaries. Majority of the costs are covered by the state via a public French healthcare insurance scheme, therefore residents must register with a French health insurer as well as registering with a doctor. Both the government and the patient will pay small contributions to their healthcare costs and individuals including, employed expats, self employed workers and retired people must register at their local security office.

The public health system will cover most part of the medical bills but some expats may decide to get extra private coverage to cover the remaining medical fees. Those with an illness such as cancer or diabetes, the government may cover all medical bills, surgery, therapy and drugs costs.

Expats living in France will be able to access healthcare after three months of ongoing residence or before if working and paying social security. The system offers free full medical check up every two years and allows patients to choose which doctor they want to visit as well as get medical attention from specialists without a referral from their GP.

Private Healthcare

Expats and French citizens choose to get private health care insurance to cover expenses which are not covered by the social insurance. A French insurance policy will prove to be cheaper and easier to get than an International health insurance policy.

You may be required to fill in a medical questionnaire if you are insured with a profit insurer.  Most of the privately funded health care work in private offices and the government still play a big part in medical fees and other costs which are related to prescriptions.

Some private health plans are supplied by employers and this can be negotiated into packages before expats sign a contract with a company that they will be working with.

How to Register for French Health Care

To register for health care in France, you must have lived in France for more than three months.

You will need to register via your local Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie office which can be found on the website (Ameli)

Expats who are employed, your employer will be required to register you with the French social security before you can register for French Healthcare insurance.

If you are self employed you must contact the Regime Social des Indépendants (RSI) office instead.

Healthcare System Card

Those who are over the age of 16 will be required to have a carte vitale (health system card). You will be issued with one of these once you have registered with the health care system.

The card issued will have a photo and an embedded chip containing your name, address, social security details and information about payments. This card must be taken to any appointments that you may have which will allow you to reimburse payments directly from the health insurance fund for what you have been treated for. Patients will not be expected to pay upfront when carrying this card.


In the major cities of France, expats will be able to find many pharmacies. Most of these are late night pharmacies with some only opening until 6pm.

If you require over the counter medicine, this will need to be purchased from a pharmacy and cannot be bought from pharmacies that are located in a supermarket.

Emergency Services

Emergency services are generally handled by SAMU which is an organisation that provides ambulance services and other emergency assistance.

Expats in an emergency must dial 15 on a landline and 112 on a mobile phone.