All individuals living in France must have healthcare insurance to cover medical expenses (doctors, pharmaceuticals, hospitalisation, etc.).
If you are not eligible for Universal Healthcare Protection under French Social Security, the below options are available for you:
- Keep your affiliation to your Social Security scheme of your previous country of residence (previously check if it will cover you in France and how) ;
- Take out a private health insurance in your home country that will cover your health expenses during your entire stay in France for you and your family members ;
- Take out a private health insurance in France.
Check before relocating: private health insurance rates may be different between your home country and France.
Reimbursement of your healthcare expenses
If you are eligible for Universal Healthcare Protection under French Social Security, when you consult a GP or specialist, you will be expected to pay the doctor’s fees at the end of your appointment. If you have not yet received your “Carte Vitale”, the doctor will give you a document called a “feuille de soins” which you should send to Social Security (CPAM) to claim for reimbursement.
However, Social Security will only reimburse part of your expenses. The reimbursement rates vary depending on the type of treatment, but are usually around 60% to 70% of the official rates determined by Social Security for each type of treatment. Pharmaceuticals are reimbursed at a rate of 15% to 65%, depending on the product.
Since, Social Security only reimburses a part of the total cost, we strongly recommend you to contract a complementary health insurance (=mutuelle), specially if you have children or need special medical care. Such insurance may supplement the Social Security reimbursement and avoid onerous expenses (for instance: a visit to the dentist, a hospitalization or the purchase of prescription eyeglasses).
NB: to obtain maximum reimbursement determined by Social Security, you also need to inform Social Security (CPAM) of your elected general practitioner (in French: médecin traitant). Not all general practioners charge the same rates. You will obtain better reimbursement if you choose a ‘sector-1’ GP charging official rates. The rates charged by your doctor are listed in a document called the annuaire santé.
Download the list of English-speaking doctors in Lyon provided by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The procedure for obtaining healthcare cover varies depending on your situation:
- Researchers with a "scientist" visa and their spouse
- European scientist or PhD student and their spouse
- PhD student with a "student" visa and their spouse