Health Tips in France



Healthcare in France

Those belonging to EU/EEA countries and moving to France either temporarily or for a longer stay are automatically entitled to free basic health care by virtue of reciprocal agreements between EU countries. The European Health Insurance Card, which is being issued to Europeans traveling within the EEA simplifies the procedure for medical assistance in case it is required. Non-EU/EEA countries are advised to check with a local agency to see if there are any reciprocal agreements with France. 

Those who intend to stay longer in France must subscribe to the French Social Security System to get health cover for yourself and your dependants and you will have to a complete form (feuille de soins) to your CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie) for reimbursement. Keep a copy of all medical reports, bills, and claim forms in order.  


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Hospitals & Clinics 

Both public and private hospitals delivering good quality health care are spread across the country. In case of an emergency, the responsibility of administering necessary care lies with the hospital staff. Some organizations may prefer payment in cash.  

Medicines & Pharmacies 

France is quite restrictive in the distribution of medicines and many drugs that are freely available over the counter in other countries may not be found here. The local pharmacie is manned by well qualified staff who people usually approach to ask for suitable medication for minor ailments. However, they are not above a doctor and in case of serious health concerns always consult a doctor.   

Pharmacies usually work Monday to Saturday, between 9:00 and 20:00 and are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Medicines in France cost less than what they do in other EU countries. As member of the French social security system, part of the cost of medicines will be reimbursed to you and the other half will be taken care of by any other complimentary insurance scheme that you may subscribe to. Carte Vitale holders will have to pay 35-65% cost which cannot be reimbursed at pharmacies that are linked online with the French Social Security System. You can send the form (feuille de soins) with the vignette/s to your local CPAM and claim reimbursement. Some pharmacies now offer third-party payment (Tiers-payant) service where they claim the amount directly from the social security system and complimentary insurance provider so you don't have to pay anything to get your prescription processed.   


Doctors and medical service providers are listed in the Yellow Pages. They can be found online The best way to find a doctor is to ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation. Also check to see if the doctor or hospital you choose to go to has Social security (conventionné). Only then will the fees be charged at standard rates. Otherwise, reimbursements under the social security scheme will be lower and even private medical insurance will prove to be insufficient to cover the cost. 

Appointments with general practitioners can be made by telephone 1-3 days ahead but specialists could take 1-2 weeks. GP's may charge €20-25 for a consultation while specialists may charge €25-30, with a higher fees on weekends as well as home visits.    

Emergency Services 

In case of an emergency you should go to the emergency section of the nearest hospital. Under French law, all hospitals whether public or private are required to treat a patient in an emergency so don't worry about insurance matters. The Pompiers-Sapeurs (Fire-brigade) also act as an emergency first-aid; contact them in case you cannot contact an ambulance yourself.  

Emergency Contact Numbers

General Emergency number is 112

Police: 17

AMU (Ambulance):15 

Pompiers (Fire-brigade):18  

Health Risks

There are no major health risks for people moving to France. However, the immunization policy is the cornerstone of the national prevention strategy. Certain vaccinations like those for tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis and the BCG against tuberculosis are compulsory for all.