Expatriate guide to the French healthcare system

Posted on 29 May at 6 PM in France
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Expatriate guide to the French healthcare system

Expatriate guide to the French healthcare system

For expats heading to France, a major benefit is the French healthcare system, ranked first in the world by the WHO.

Whatever the reasons for emigrating to an unfamiliar land, one major concern for would-be expatriates is the quality of healthcare available and its cost. For those heading for France, its healthcare is rated first in the world by the World Health Organisation, but French bureaucracy can be confusing at best and impenetrable at worst.

French health insurance is government-funded, using tax revenues to cover between 70 and 80 per cent of medical costs, leaving the patient to cover the remainder. The plan effectively alleviates the financial burden of providing state medical services of the highest quality and works through reimbursements, thus reducing medical fees overall. As France has both public and private healthcare facilities, residents can choose private health insurance to cover remaining fees due. The system also covers 100 per cent of medical expenses for those with severe conditions including cancer, meaning the sickest pay the least in fees.

The Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA) system was introduced in 2016 and granted expats in France access to the country’s health insurance plan with less stringent requirements and conditions. Expats are covered if they’ve lived in France for three months on a consecutive basis and remain legal residents regardless of changing circumstances and financial stability. More changes are due to follow this year, including the setting up of healthcare professional communities covering the population’s medical needs in each area, and working expat resident participation in the healthcare insurance scheme is granted via French Social Security system contributions.

All those below the age of 16, (minors), are covered automatically under the state scheme, but it’s now unsure due to Brexit as to the level of cover available for expats currently using the European Health Card. Dental care is also covered by the French system, but includes separate repayment rates. The cost of standard dental treatment is reimbursed, as are specialist treatment amounts, but advanced treatment invariably costs more. It’s also possible that retirees who are committed to staying long-term in France will be allowed coverage.

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