First things first, the French social security system is considered as one of the best in the world. Since January 2016, everybody working or living in France regularly and stably is entitled to social security coverage.
If you work in France, you will pay Social Security taxes, and you will automatically be affiliated to the Social Security system. Your employer is also obliged to include a top-up/complementary insurance (mutuelle) among your compensation package.
The French social security has established rates for healthcare consultations and procedures. The top-up/complementary insurance (mutuelle) will cover the difference between the reimbursement of the Social Security and the actual expenses.
- Consultation with a general practitioner that does not practice Social Security established rates, she charges 60 €
- Social Security established rates for a consultation with a general practitioner is 25 €
- Social Security reimburses 70% of the established rate = 17,50 €
- The rest will be paid by you or by the top-up/complimentary insurance (mutuelle)
- Some doctors and establishments practice the rates established by the Social Security, some do not.
If you have a (good) complementary insurance, expenses not covered by the Social Security will be covered by the top-up/complimentary insurance. If you want to avoid paying too much from your own pocket, you will have to choose practitioners and establishments that practice Social Security established rates.
So, why should I consider an expat insurance?
- If you work in France you will automatically be entitled to Social Security, but if you have another kind of revenue the dues payable towards Social Security will be calculated on your revenues and fees can be pretty high. In some cases, subscribing to an expat insurance can be beneficial.
- If you have an expat insurance that covers from the first euro spent, in the example above, the
expat insurance will directly cover up to 60 €.
- If you have an expat insurance, you will be free to choose the practitioners and establishments.
- Worldwide coverage (whether you travel for business or pleasure)
- An expat insurance will also cover you for emergencies in your country of origin during temporary stays
- Repatriation assistance coverage
- Civil liability coverage
What’s more, French law is very protective towards people holding a private health insurance, for instance:
Annual premium increases cannot be based on previous individual claiming history. This means that even if you had a lot of expenses the previous year, the premium of your insurance cannot be increased more than the general increase of the contract you hold.
Once accepted into the contract your policy cannot be cancelled (as long as payments are up to date) even if you had a lot of expenses and reached the insurance annual limit, your contract cannot be cancelled.