There are many things to enjoy about living in France – the excellent food, the culture, the climate. It is also a country that boasts a very high standard of healthcare, but if you’re planning to reside in France long-term, there are certain factors you should consider in case you ever require medical treatment – most notably, why international health insurance may be a good choice for you.

Health cover in France: your options

In order to live permanently in France, you must be covered by some form of health insurance. Anyone who is working in France (and therefore having contributions automatically deducted from their pay) and expats who hold an S1 form from their home government all qualify for the state health insurance; otherwise you will be required to take out private health insurance.

However, even with state health insurance, in France patients are expected to pay upfront for their medical treatment, then be reimbursed at a later date. What’s more, for most routine treatments the state only reimburses around 70 per cent of the cost – and sometimes much less for certain medications and services depending on the medical necessity and effectiveness of the treatment or prescription. Therefore, it is common for residents to top up their health cover with additional private health insurance to help cover the fees that are not covered by the state. Depending on what type of treatment you require, and the practitioner’s level of professional experience, this can be a substantial amount.



Most people find that this combination of state health care and voluntary health insurance is sufficient to meet their needs but, as with any health insurance policy, it is wise to make sure that you’ll be covered at the level you expect. Whatever form of insurance you opt for, check your policy to ensure you’re comfortable with the level of coverage provided.

For instance, some supplementary insurance policies won’t cover treatments or medications that are not normally covered by the state health insurance. Others won’t cover surplus charges over and above the official treatment tariff established by the state, although some medical centres and specialists do charge a higher rate. Sometimes these extras are covered, but the level of reimbursement can vary, so always be sure to look into the various options to find a policy and coverage level that suits your budget and specific health needs.

If you suffer from pre-existing or chronic conditions, it is also vital to research coverage for your particular condition before relocating to France, as both the state health system and private top-up insurance can vary considerably in their coverage of many serious illnesses – meaning you could be left seriously out of pocket if your condition is not on your chosen provider’s list of approved conditions.

How international health insurance can help

In order to simplify the process and help ensure that they are covered for the medical assistance they may need, many expats planning to live abroad in France choose to purchase international health insurance. More than just travel insurance, which usually only covers emergency medical treatment during your time abroad, international health insurance is designed to help you get the medical treatment you need and help maintain your health and wellbeing in the first place.

For example, Bupa Global gives you direct access to leading specialists without the need for a GP or family doctor referral. They offer help, support and advice 24/7 on the phone from multilingual in-house medical experts. They also provide access to a second medical opinion from world-class specialists – available to all customers looking for confidence and reassurance in their medical diagnosis, at no extra cost. You can get a quote today by clicking here