Your EHIC does not cover private treatment, so make sure you are treated by a state healthcare provider in France (conventionné). Conventionné practitioners can fall into either of the following two categories:
- Secteur 1: practitioners who charge the official social security rate.
- Secteur 2: practitioners who charge an extra fee on top of the official rate.
You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.
In any case, you must pay the practitioner (doctor or dentist) directly. They will then fill out a treatment form (feuille de soins) and a prescription if necessary. The treatment form is necessary to claim any refunds in France. You can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.
You can search for health professionals for the area you are staying in via the l’Assurance Maladi website (information in French only).
As a visitor (non-resident) to France, you are not subject to French laws governing the parcours de soins (coordinated medical consultation procedure). This means you can consult a specialist directly without going through a GP first. To prove that the parcours de soins isn’t applicable to you and to avoid paying any additional charge, you should show the doctor (whether a GP or specialist) your European Health Insurance Card or Provisional Replacement Certificate.
However, if you move to France long-term or plan to work in the country, you’ll have to register with the local state health insurance company (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie – CPAM). Look up the local institution according to your place of residence.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll be issued a ‘carte vitale’ which you need to present when seeing a health professional or going into hospital. You’ll also have to pay a monthly health insurance premium as well as contributing to the costs when seeing a doctor. The parcours de soins will apply, meaning you’ll need a GP referral to see a specialist.
Contact the Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale (CLEISS) for more advice before you travel. Call 0033 1 45 26 33 41 from the UK or email email@example.com. They provide information in French, English, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
If you are admitted to hospital, make sure you present your EHIC or your ‘carte vitale’ on admission. This will ensure you only pay the patient contribution.
If you are admitted to a private hospital or clinic, try to ensure that it is also registered to provide state healthcare.
Generally, you will only have to pay a 20% co-payment towards your treatment, sometimes it will be free. Inpatients will have to pay a daily hospital charge of €18. If you are admitted to hospital and receive any major medical treatment, you will be charged a flat-rate contribution of €18 in addition to the daily hospital charge or the 20% co-payment.
If possible, find out about treatment costs and reimbursement rates in advance. Some facilities apply a surcharge (dépassement d’honoraires) that is not covered by the French healthcare system. A few clinics are 'non conventionnées', meaning that their rates are not government regulated.
You can obtain your medicines from any pharmacy (pharmacie) on presenting the feuille de soins and the doctor’s prescription. The price of the medicine is printed on a feuille de soins that the chemist will give back to you with the prescription. You pay the chemist directly. The vignettes (stickers) on the medicine packaging must be removed and stuck on the feuille de soins in the space provided – you cannot claim a refund without it.
Prescribed medicines are only reimbursable if they are listed as reimbursable pharmaceutical products. Reimbursement rates vary between 15% and 100 % of the sale price.
In most areas you’ll find at least one pharmacy that is open on Sundays or during out-of-office hours (pharmacie de garde/service de garde). Information about out-of-hours services are generally displayed in the shop windows of local pharmacies or newspaper agents.
You can call 32 37 for information about duty pharmacies. It’s a 24 hr phone service to help you find pharmacies in your area. You can also use their online service and search for pharmacies via post code (Information in French only).