Healthcare in France

Healthcare in France


As you discover the elegance and charm of France, celebrated for its luxurious lifestyle and cultural richness, understanding healthcare and insurance becomes a vital part of your experience. This article offers an overview of essential healthcare and insurance information in France, relevant to residents, tourists, and those considering longer stays. It highlights key points to ensure you are well-informed about your health and well-being while enjoying all that France has to offer.

French Healthcare System

France is known for its high-quality healthcare system, recognized globally for its excellence. This system encompasses both public and private healthcare sectors, giving you a range of choices to meet diverse health needs. The public sector, including the state-funded L'Assurance Maladie, offers comprehensive coverage, while the private sector is known for its prompt services.

Healthcare Glossary

Understanding healthcare terminology in France is key to navigating the system effectively. Here are some essential terms you may encounter:

  • CPAM (Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie): The local health insurance office that manages your healthcare registration and claims.
  • PUMA (Protection Maladie Universelle): Universal public health insurance providing basic health coverage to all residents in France.
  • L'Assurance Maladie: The French social security system for health, offering coverage for various medical services.
  • Les Urgences: The emergency room in hospitals, critical for urgent medical care.
  • Médecin Traitant (General Practitioner, GP): Your primary healthcare provider who manages your overall medical care.
  • Carte Vitale: A green card that facilitates access to healthcare services and reimbursement of medical expenses.

Health Insurance Options

In France, health insurance is categorized into Public and Private options, each catering to different needs.

Public Health Insurance (L'Assurance Maladie)

This state-funded option offers comprehensive coverage, including:

  • GP Visits: Most doctor consultations are significantly covered.
  • Hospital Stays: Coverage includes both planned and emergency hospitalizations.
  • Specialist Consultations: Accessible but may have longer wait times.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Many prescription medicines are reimbursed.

Public insurance provides universal coverage, ensuring essential healthcare services for all. However, it may not cover specific specialized treatments or offer expedited services.

Private Health Insurance

Private insurance complements the public system with added benefits:

  • Shorter Waiting Times: Quicker access to specialists and elective procedures.
  • Expanded Treatment Options: Coverage for additional treatments, including alternative and cosmetic procedures.
  • Choice of Providers: Freedom to choose from a wider range of healthcare professionals.
  • International Coverage: Beneficial for travelers and expatriates, some plans cover medical services abroad.

Private insurance allows for a more tailored healthcare experience. Premiums vary, so it’s important to consider your specific needs when choosing a plan.

Healthcare Access

In France, healthcare access varies based on your status:

  • Residents: Register for public healthcare after three months of residence via your local CPAM office, with necessary documents like a passport and proof of address.
  • Employees: Gain healthcare coverage through contributions to the French social security system.
  • Retirees: Eligible for public healthcare after a three-month residence, requiring private insurance during this waiting period.
  • Children: Free healthcare under 18 through parental or guardian coverage.
  • Tourists: Recommended to have travel insurance for healthcare. European tourists can utilize the EHIC for necessary treatments.

Emergency Procedures

In a medical emergency in France, the response varies by your healthcare coverage:

  • Residents with Public Healthcare: Generally covered for emergencies. Head to the nearest hospital emergency room ('Les Urgences'), carrying your Carte Vitale.
  • Tourists: Essential to have travel health insurance. Keep insurance details handy, and Europeans should carry the EHIC.
  • Employees: Covered through employment. Know your nearest healthcare facilities and save important emergency numbers.
  • Children and Retirees: Follow resident procedures, ensuring children are covered under their parents' plan and retirees have registered after the waiting period.

Important Emergency Numbers

  • 112: General Emergency
  • 15: Medical Emergency
  • 17: Police
  • 18: Fire Brigade
  • 115: Social Emergency
  • 119: Abused Children
  • 116000: Missing Children
  • 114: Emergency calls for users with disabilities

Healthcare Costs

The following are approximate costs associated with typical healthcare services: 

  • General Practitioner (GP) Visits: Typically, €25 to €50 per standard appointment.
  • Specialist Consultations: For experts like cardiologists or dermatologists, expect €50 to €100 per visit.
  • Hospital Stays: Public hospital overnight stays range from €200 to €800, with private hospitals potentially costing more.
  • Dental Procedures: Basic check-ups are about €30 to €60, while complex treatments like root canals can be €200 to €600.
  • Prescriptions: Common medications cost approximately €10 to €30, while specialized drugs may exceed €100.
  • Private Health Insurance Premiums: These vary widely, from around €30 to €300 monthly, depending on coverage.
  • Emergency Services: Ambulance services, if not insured, may cost €120 to €250, based on distance and medical support.

These figures are estimates and actual costs can vary. Public health insurance may cover many of these expenses, and private insurance can provide additional coverage, particularly for services with higher out-of-pocket costs.


Comprehending healthcare options in France is essential for anyone visiting or residing in the country, with factors like visit purpose, stay duration, and residency status affecting available choices. Advance planning for healthcare and emergency services is vital for ensuring comprehensive coverage. At ServiceAzur, while we don't directly handle healthcare matters, we understand their importance in the broader context of your stay or residence in France. This includes intersections with real estate and insurance requirements. Our commitment extends to ensuring you are well-informed and supported in all aspects of your experience in France.

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