Healthcare in France


Receiving the World Health Organization’s “best performing system in the world” in terms of availability and organization of health care providers, the French healthcare system proves its world excellence.

French healthcare come from a branch of the Social Security (Sécurité sociale) system funded by: 20% of employees' gross salaries and deductions from the self-employed (makes up 60 percent of the fund), indirect taxes on alcohol and tobacco, and direct contributions from all other sources of income, including pensions and capital revenues.

The French health care service is certainly costly to maintain, but it remains one of the best in the world, offering a large choice of general practitioners and healthcare specialists.

Every legal resident of France has access under the law of universal coverage called la Couverture maladie universell (CMU). EU nationals who arrived in France after 23 November 2007, and inactive individuals like those with no professional activity or students have to wait until they have lived in France for five consecutive years before they can enjoy the French healthcare system. However, those who have taken up residency in France before November 2007 are not affected by this ruling.   

While the new French Health system regulations have an adverse effect on expats, the root cause of these changes is clear - the rising costs of medicines, a growing unemployment rate and an aging population. 

You must hold private health insurance in order to have the right to stay in France.

A foreign national from outside the EU member states or Switzerland, must justify their right to residence in France in order to gain access to state healthcare.

You need to apply to CMU de base (basic CMU) in order to be affiliated, but all income levels may do so. A legal resident's coverage of medical services is 70% and other household members are also covered. CMU complémentaire (complementary CMU) is renewable yearly.

Patients must present their card to receive services. The name of this card is "Carte Vitale", which records all transactions for the caisse d' assurance where he/she is registered. All medical procedures (hospitalization, laboratory tests, x-rays, etc) must take place in the locality of the caisse d´assurance. However, a patient can buy medicines anywhere in France and be reimbursed later. All medication is regulated and must be obtained from a pharmacist.

Emergency Numbers

You can call these numbers free of charge from a home or public payphone for the emergency services in France.

Medical - Samu 15 (Calls go directly to a physician and you will be assisted on the line until help has arrived)

Police - Gendarme 17

Fire and Paramedics- Pompier 18

Sea or Lake Rescue 1616

Child Abuse Hotline 119

Homeless Hotline 115

Drugs & Alcohol Hotline 113

Please note that if you are calling from a mobile phone you should dial 112, the Single European emergency call number as this connects you to the hotline wherever you are with the EU.

In addition to these public hotline services, there are two private companies that provide 24-hour medical services: SOS Medicins 0147077777 and Urgences Medicales de Paris 0153949494.


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