Everything you need to know about health insurance for foreigners coming to France

Everything you need to know about health insurance for foreigners coming to France

6 July 2021 Insurance

Are you French and living abroad or are you a foreigner and want to know if health insurance is compulsory in France? This is an important question that many people ask themselves. In reality, the answer is “yes” and “no”, it depends on several criteria. We explain everything in our dedicated article!

everything you should know about health insurance in france

Source: Pexels, @LukeWebb


Health insurance in France: how does it work?

Also known as “mutuelle santé”, the health insurance covers all or part of the health expenses not reimbursed by Social Security. Its purpose is to supplement the part of medical expenses not covered by the Assurance Maladie. Several types of cover are available, and it is up to you to choose according to your needs and budget. Perhaps you don’t see the point of subscribing to a health insurance plan? If the out-of-pocket expenses are rather low for a consultation, they can be very high for other medical expenses. If you need dental prostheses, hearing care or optical equipment, the out-of-pocket expenses are very high.

When you take out complementary health insurance in France, you are covered against the most expensive medical costs. We advise you to include cover that corresponds to your needs, so that you don’t lose money.

Is supplementary health insurance compulsory in France?

In France, the Social Security system is one of the fundamental rights of anyone living in France. This system is open to all French people and all people who live in France in a stable and regular manner. However, the situation is different with regards to health insurance, which is offered by mutual insurance companies and insurance companies. Membership of a complementary health insurance company in France is not always compulsory.

Foreigners in France: is health insurance compulsory?

Very often, French people find it difficult to understand how health insurance works. So, imagine a foreigner or someone not living in France like you trying to understand how it works. How does french health insurance work? How do you apply for expatriate health insurance in France? It all depends on your status and the length of your stay. We explain it all to you!

In case of a short stay

If you are coming to France for less than 3 months, you are not obliged to register with the French Social Security System or with a local mutual insurance company. If you are a European traveller, you are covered by the social security system in place in your country of origin. To do this, you must have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. This is what will allow you to be reimbursed for your various medical expenses.

If you are a foreigner from outside the European Union, you must obtain a visa called a “Schengen visa”. To do this, you must take out a “Schengen insurance” with a French insurance company. All insurance companies offer this insurance, which covers at least 30,000 euros of medical expenses. It also includes repatriation and civil liability cover.

If you are employed in France

Whether you are employed in France or self-employed, you are entitled to universal health protection. This means that you can seek medical treatment in France and be reimbursed personally like anyone else. You are therefore obliged to join the Social Security system within three months of your arrival. There are two scenarios:

  • If you are a foreign employee

Your employer must take care of the various procedures.

  • If you are a European employee

The situation is different if you are a European employee because you lose the status of insured in your country of origin. You must be insured with the Social Security system like any French employee. To do this, you must complete form E104 and submit it to the Assurance Maladie. Note also that your family members are covered by the Social Security system.

Whether you are a European or a foreigner, you have the right to take out a supplementary health insurance policy. You can take out the contract with an insurance company, a mutual insurance company or a bank.

If you are a foreign civil servant in France

You may not be aware that foreign civil servants are considered temporary residents in France. In fact, if you are a civil servant you do not need to join the Social Security system. You retain the social protection of your country of origin.

However, you may well take out a complementary health insurance policy to cover any health expenses not covered by your social security system.

For European civil servants, you must obtain the S1 form in order to continue to be reimbursed for medical expenses incurred in France.

If you are a foreign pensioner

If your country of origin is outside the European Union, you must obtain a residence permit. Your social protection in France depends on the agreements between the two countries. Ask your Health Insurance Sytem for information before coming to France. If you are settled in France on a permanent basis, you can benefit from the universal health protection scheme (Puma).

If you are a European retiree coming to live in France, the situation is much simpler. You do not need a residence permit. You just need to obtain the S1 form to become affiliated with the Social Security. Your medical expenses will be covered directly by the Assurance Maladie. In addition, you are free to take out supplementary health insurance to supplement the part not reimbursed by the Social Security.

To conclude

Whether you are a French citizen living abroad or a foreigner wishing to visit France, you will undoubtedly need medical care. Health insurance is not compulsory if you do not live in France. However, you can either pay into the French Social Security system or take advantage of international health insurance to reimburse your medical expenses. Request a free international health insurance quote online, it’s 100% free and without obligation!

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