Medical Insurance in France – Some Do’s and Don’ts (Sponsored Post)

“Everyone will eventually need health care at a time and to an extent they cannot predict, but if they do not have insurance, they will often not be able to pay for it (the cost of healthcare)” so said Chief Justice Roberts in June 2012 when considering the legality of President Obama’s health care reforms. Precisely!

Unfortunately this summer an SFN member became the poster boy for the need to have good medical care insurance when he uploaded a picture of himself lying on a hospital bed following an accident.

A young person of 21 usually feels sure that he or she will remain healthy, will avoid a serious accident and old age is such a distant prospect that it is not worth considering. The reality is very different. Disaster can strike anyone at any time and without warning. Thus health insurance is vital.

If you have relocated (or are about to relocate) from the UK to France you will have been used to healthcare that is free at the point of delivery, but it is not in fact free because you will have been making National Insurance Contributions either as an employee or as a self-employed person. If you are coming from outside the European Union from, say, the USA you will be all too aware of the potential cost of healthcare. The reality is that healthcare has to be paid for in France just as it does one way or the other in every country.

The basis of the French system is that you pay the medical provider and reclaim the cost from your insurer. Generally a French insurer will reimburse about 65% or 70% of the cost and you will have to reclaim the balance from a top-up or complémentaire policy. This means you will need two policies to be fully insured.

Before your arrival in France you should be aware of two important considerations. First and foremost, you need effective health insurance in force from day one for your and your family’s protection. Secondly, you should know that it is a legal obligation in France to purchase health insurance. The challenge for you is to find the cover that suits your needs and which is available at a reasonable cost consistent with the cover given.

At the start of your search for medical insurance cover there are a few facts that you should take into account:

It is a legal obligation in France to be insured for the reimbursement of your medical expenses.

You have the right to buy insurance from any insurer registered in the European Union. This right is fully enshrined in French insurance law, French law and European law.

Contrary to a common misconception it is not obligatory to be insured by the system known as Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU) for the first 65% or 70% of the costs.

If you are covered by the CMU the cost is calculated, with exceptions, on your income at the rate of 8%. For example, if your qualifying income is €50,000, you will pay €4,000 per annum, for which you do not get full cover.

You will find that many so-called mutuelles will be advertising for your business. However they only provide top-up or complémentaire cover, leaving you on your own for the first 65% or 70% of the costs. Thus under the French system you need two policies to achieve full cover.

A carte vitale is not an insurance policy. It is a third party payment system so that, for example, when you go to the pharmacie the bill is sent directly to your insurer thereby relieving you of the need to pay and then reclaim the 65% or 70% mentioned above. You will still have to reclaim the balance on a top up or complémentaire policy.


You must have medical insurance if you live in France because:

It is the law.

You need to protect your family against high or unaffordable medical bills.


For more information or a no obligation quotation please contact Amariz Ltd, a company that has been providing cover for the reimbursement of medical expenses in France for more than 20 years.

UK number 0117 974 5770 or Freephone from France 0800 900 258

The main advantages if you insure with Amariz:

Experienced, friendly, bi-lingual staff and all documents are available in English or French.

Premiums are based upon your age at date of joining and you remain in that age bracket throughout your period of membership.

Under the GOLD or SILVER contracts cover is from the first EURO and a top-up or complémentaire policy is not necessary.

Both brand named and generic medications are reimbursed immediately.

Cover is life-long and cannot be cancelled because of ill health.

A short medical questionnaire will need to be completed prior to joining.

You will be given a third party payment card.

Cover is provided by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London.

Ian Swan,

President, Schetland e.V

Ian Swan has spent all his professional life as an insurance broker working at or with Lloyd’s of London. As president of Schetland, a not for profit association promoting the freedom to insure anywhere in Europe as allowed under European Law, he has negotiated a group medical reimbursement contract that is of interest to anyone residing in the EEA or Switzerland and who has a need for cover in France.