France is a popular destination for skilled employees from all around the globe due to its excellent standard of living, work-life balance, and unparalleled cultural experiences.
While France is a lucrative destination for highly skilled workers, healthcare is a significant cause of worry for expatriates in the country. France’s healthcare system can be challenging to navigate, especially when factoring in the local language.
Anyone going abroad for six months or more for reasons other than travel, study, and research needs expat health insurance in France to be secure from the financial problems an unexpected medical emergency could cause.
French Healthcare System – A Brief Overview
The French government spends almost 10% of its GDP on healthcare. Due to this, the treatment costs are largely subsidized by the government.
French citizens are mandated by law to have state health insurance coverage. The citizens contribute an average of €10 per month for this benefit.
There are 2,700 public and private hospitals in France. Sixty percent of the total number of beds are in public hospitals. The French government heavily subsidizes treatment at these facilities. The cost of an emergency room visit is usually €100, but with a state health plan, it drops to €30.
In case of consultation with a general physician, the €23 bill per visit is reduced to €7.
On average, almost 70% of the medical costs in public sector hospitals are borne by the government. For seniors above 65, those with chronic ailments, and the underprivileged, the facilities are available free of cost.
The state health insurance plan can be supplanted by private insurance for those who can afford it. Before you arrive in France, it is mandatory to have health insurance coverage and to submit the relevant documents when you receive the visa.
Upon arrival, you could also sign up for the government plan known as Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA). Since 2016, PUMA has allowed foreigners who reside in France for more than three months to receive benefits from the French public healthcare system.
What Is Covered Under State Health Insurance in France?
- Medical Practitioners: Doctors charge a uniform fee of approximately €25 per visit, which is reimbursed by the public insurance provider.
- Emergency Treatment: The cost of emergency treatment, including ambulance, is covered under the state insurance plan. If you need medical attention due to an accident or sudden hospitalization for surgery, there is no cause to worry.
- Medicines: The cost of medications is directly subsidized. There is no reimbursement because the medicines are sold at a cheaper rate.
- Specialists: If a general practitioner decides you require further consultation, then you would be referred to a specialist. The cost of services of the specialist must be paid up front and is reimbursed when claimed.
- Childbirth: The government carries almost the entire cost of maternity and related procedures. The government also pays for USG scans, consults, and surgeries, if any.
What Makes France Expat Medical Insurance Useful
Like most European nations, the public healthcare system in France is overburdened. PUMA is, at best, a secondary option to fall back on, despite the low cost.
A study by Drees conducted in 2016-17 analyzed 23,500 doctors’ appointments to find that there was a waiting time of six days to visit a GP (General Practitioner), which can be too long a wait when you have a painful skin rash or an earache.
The average waiting time to see a dentist is a month, a gynecologist 1.5 months, and that rises to almost two months for a cardiologist. It's hard to imagine that as an expat, you would want to wait a month to get your cavity treated or your chest pain diagnosed. Moreover, you do not get reimbursed for alternative therapies such as a visit to a chiropractor.
The practical solution is to take advantage of international private medical insurance as soon as you decide to move to France.
When you buy a France expat medical care insurance policy, you receive coverage for any expenses associated with the following healthcare needs:
- Second opinion from the best specialists
- Short waiting time for surgery
- Better alternatives in case of transplants, cataract lenses and joint replacement
- More scope of elective surgery
- Facility for rapid evacuation to the U.S.
Buy Expat Insurance for Peace of Mind
Regardless of the nature of your ailment, you need access to first-class healthcare without waiting weeks for a consult. Moreover, it is helpful if the services include translation of medical reports and access to medical practitioners who speak English.
All expatriate health insurance products are not created equal.
We provide policies and riders that offer maximum value for money.
Few things in life can be more stressful than falling ill in a foreign country. The expat insurance policies we provide allow you to enjoy your stay and do your best to remain in excellent health during your time in France.