Understanding the French Healthcare System

Find out everything you need to know about the French healthcare system, including the cost of healthcare and prescriptions, booking appointments, and the benefits of having private health insurance when moving to France.

doctor seeing a patient

French healthcare system

When preparing to move abroad to France, one of the things that’s often neglected is making sure that you and your family will have adequate understanding of the French health care system.  If you’re used to a comprehensive, free healthcare system, such as that of the NHS, it can be a shock to find out that you may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

  • French healthcare system

The French healthcare system is a complex one.  It’s well worth getting your head around the ins and outs of the cost of healthcare in France before you move, as you may have to call upon the system in the future.

French health care provides a high level of easily accessible care; however, it can be daunting to navigate. Everyone living and working in France should register with one of the state health insurance companies (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie - CPAM).  Once registered, you will be issued with a Carte Vitale. This must be presented whenever you visit a health professional or go to hospital.

  • Cost of healthcare in France

In France, you’re typically required to pay for your medical expenses up front. This includes visiting the doctor, any medical tests that need to be carried out and buying prescribed medicines. You will then be reimbursed through CPAM. However, personal contribution is a fundamental principle of the French healthcare system. This means that you often aren’t reimbursed the full amount. For instance, if you’re admitted to hospital you are typically reimbursed 80% of the fees incurred.  If you find that you need to stay in hospital for a prolonged period of time, the costs can easily pile up.

  • French healthcare facts

According to the World Health Organization, the French healthcare system is ranked 1st in the world.

The International Health Care System Profiles reports that there are over 220,000 general practitioners (GPs) and 119,000 specialists in France. More than half of these are reportedly younger doctors in group practices. The average practice in France is made up of two to three physicians.

  • Expat health insurance

If you have an expat health insurance policy with us here at Cigna, you won’t have to worry about such issues. We arrange to pay your medical provider directly, or settle your claim within 5 working days. We focus entirely on providing international medical insurance for expats.

With 30 years’ experience in this field, we’ll help you create a health insurance plan that’s perfectly tailored to the needs of you and your family. We offer you the reassurance of comprehensive core cover, with the flexibility of adding extra benefits if you wish.  

Our core plans cover you for essential hospital stays and treatments including:

  • Surgeon & consultation fees
  • Hospital accommodation
  • Cancer treatment

You can choose between three levels of core cover:

  • Silver: €800,000 / £650,000
  • Gold:  €1,600,000 / £1,300,000
  • Platinum: €2,500,000 / £2,000,000

Once you’ve created your core cover plan, you can add optional modules:

  • International outpatient– additional and more extensive outpatient cover that protects you for any treatments that don’t require a hospital stay.
  • International medical evacuation– peace of mind cover for transport and repatriation costs for you and a family member if you need treatment in another country.
  • International vision & dental– complete cover for all your vision and dental costs.
  • International health & wellbeing– allows you to manage your health in your own way with cover for screenings, tests, examinations and other wellbeing activities.

With Cigna Global, you’ll also receive the following benefits:

  • Access to our global network of trusted hospitals, clinics and doctors
  • The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
  • The convenience and confidence of Cigna customer care
  • The reassurance of our experience in delivering international healthcare

Next step

Take a look at our international health insurance plans and find out how you can create a plan specifically tailored to your needs.

More like this
HealthCare, Moving Abroad


Choose your comprehensive, affordable, and tailored health insurance plan

Cigna Global plans combine the reassurance of comprehensive inpatient cover, with the flexibility of optional additional modules, allowing you to build a plan that's right for you

TOP