French healthcare – are you covered?

French healthcare – are you covered?

Moving to France to start a new life is, quite rightly, full of excitement and adventure. After years of planning and saving (not to mention the day-dreaming) newcomers want to do nothing more than enjoy themselves and their new lifestyle. Practical steps, such as taking out the right health cover, rarely takes the top slot on their ‘things to do’ list.

There are cultural reasons behind this approach to healthcare. Many people don’t see the need for private cover when they move to France. Others, who are the picture of health, eat a good diet and never stray (too far) from their ‘everything in moderation’ motto, see being ill as something that “will never happen to me”. And if any major health scares do come along, you can always jump on a plane or hop across the channel to go to your GP or A&E.

To help you relax and enjoy your time in France, safe in the knowledge that your healthcare is covered, FrenchEntree has teamed up with Exclusive Healthcare to keep you up to date with healthcare in France.

Ignorance is bliss – why is this?
The reason behind this could be simply because you just don’t know who to turn to and ask about those small niggling doubts. We would like to bring to your attention just how one’s illusions can blind you to the realities of the unexpected.

The French healthcare system is very complex and can be daunting, especially when you are a newcomer. It takes time to absorb and you are slowly getting au fait with the new language, not to mention the mounds of paperwork. You probably ask yourself ‘how I am I ever going to understand and come to grips with it all?’ Especially all those terms used….. Carte/Attestation Vitale, Le ticket modérateur, La Franchise médicale, Tiers payant, Télétransmission, prise en charge and Dépassement…

Our company founder Larry Fulton thought all the above. He was enjoying la belle vie until something unexpected happen to him and he ended up in hospital with a bill to pay. His first-hand experience made him realize that he had to help others before they found themselves in the same situation. He felt a strong need to explain it in simple terms and he believes that by making people aware of the risk there are running they will avoid falling into the same false sense of security that he did.

So after his eye-opening experience he decided to create a helpline based on his previous lack of knowledge, frequently asked questions and incorporating other people’s learning curves. His ‘helping hand’ service is uniquely free of charge (without any obligation) and has proved to be very successful (See some testimonials below).

His motto is ‘We want to help you to help yourself so that you can enjoy your life in France’. The following FAQ’s are a typical example of the things we are asked day-to-day:

Q. When I retire will all my health costs be free?
A. Sorry to say – the reply is No

Q. Will a doctor’s consultations and medicines for my child be free as in the UK?
A. No. The basic healthcare system reimburses 70% for the consultation and different levels (65% 35% or 15%) for medicines.

Q. Do I have to register with a doctor, and if so, why?
A. No, but it is in your interest that you are registered and have completed a declaration S3404. If not, you will receive a reduced rate of reimbursement.

Q. What are the criteria for obtaining entry into the French Healthcare System?
A. There are various options and the answers are based on an individual basis – further details are available on request.

Q. If I have to go into hospital either as an emergency or for a planned operation will I have to pay?
A. Yes, as there are administration costs called Forfait journalier (daily bed/breakfast costs) – you will be charged for all of this. As for an operation or medical treatment, you could be invoiced for 20% of the frais de sejour – these are medical fees and ward charges. Intensive care charges vary and are costly.

The above examples are applicable when you are affiliated to the French healthcare system and they could also be applied for treatment that has been administered using a European healthcare card (EHIC).

One should be aware that all treatment establishments in France, be they hospitals or cliniques (which, although they are privately run, are nearly all classed as conventionée, with medical costs controlled by the governing body known as CPAM) are the equivalent of a state hospital, and should not be confused with the private system as run in the UK.

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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