Regular blood tests and medication

Hi all

We’re in the process of buying a property in Finistère, Brittany (near Plonévez-du-Faou). We plan to keep a UK address but once we complete on the purchase of the property in Finistère, we will want to spend long periods of time there to get the property up-together.

Both my hubby and I have long-term health conditions (hubby has had cancer and is currently 4 years clear and is under the care of the NHS). Other than his hospital check ups, he’s in reasonably good health now but requires prescribed medication. For me, I need to be seen regularly for INR (blood tests) as I have had 2 x DVTs in the past and am now on a rather high dose of warfarin for life and my INR range is quite high. I also take thyroxine.

I was wondering if any of you good people can advise what is best to do whilst we are on extended periods of time in France to get my bloods checked regularly and whether or not I (or we) need to:

  • apply for a ‘Carte Vitale’,
  • or do we pay for each visit to a doctor or medical centre.

Also, obtaining our regular medication - do we rely on our UK doctors to provide us with several months’ worth of supply or can we obtain these monthly in France?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks, Carol

Hi Carol

As a visitor, you can always avail yourself of medical help in France … but will need to pay upfront (I think). Others will chime in.

In your shoes, I would make an appointment with the local doctor next time you are over here. Explain your situations… and ask for guidance.

Doctors here are possibly as over-loaded as in UK… and the advice might be to bring medication with you each time you visit. For your blood tests, he will certainly be able to give you best advice on how the INR is surveyed.

In any case… it’s got to be worth making an appointment and talking things through.


Are you UK State Pensioners because that may affect your medical status in France significantly. Other than that, if you do not intend (yet) to be be permanently resident in France, you might be in a position to use the EHIC (until the plug is pulled on that re: Brexit) but as stella says, you may need to consider appropriate health insurance cover in France and to that end, you might be well advised to contact Fabien through this site for appropriate advice on your health cover options.

I can only tell you what I did in a similar situation before I moved over permanently. You can’t sign on the french system and get a carte vitale unless you are a French resident, however the medical system here will still treat you and you just pay upfront.

Unless you have exceptionally accommodating doctors who are prepared to bend rules, they will not give you more than 3 months supply of drugs (links below). I timed my trips to make sure that was enough, and then paid for the interim blood tests here and sent the results back to my doctors in UK. Each blood test costs about 25€ for the doctor’s visit to get the prescription for it, then 7€ for the nurse to take the blood, and between 30 and 65€ depending on what is being tested. The doctor was fine about doing that as I explained the situation. Eventually, when I moved permanantly she also prescribed drugs on my say so, as there was a wait of 7 months to see a specialist here.

In theory you can use your EHIC to access care while you are in France without any problem. You will have to pay upfront, collect the receipts (feuille de soins) and claim the money back. I did so from time to time, but it is slow. And they will only reimburse a proportion of the costs, usually 65 or 70%.

Travel insurance will usually refuse to pay for regular care. Private health insurance might do, but will be expensive - I’ve never had any so can’t say for sure.

Talk to your UK doctor about the pros and cons of switching to one of the new oral anticoagulant drugs you won’t need a regular INR if taking one.

Hi Stella. Thank you so much for your advice. I’ll certainly go and see the local doctor as soon as I am next over. Thanks again :blush: Carol

Hi Graham. Thanks for your response. No, as yet neither of us are pensioners. I am 53 and my husband is 63. His works pension will kick in when he’s 65 (in Sept 19). Until then he is medically retired and was lucky that he was insured by his company so still receives a salary. I have recently given up my job so that we can pursue the French project.

We could look into health insurance - probably expensive though, especially with our medical conditions?

Is Fabien a member of this group or is it a company?

Thanks again, Carol

Hi Jane. Thanks for your response. It seems there is quite a high charge for having a blood test - from what I can determine, it could cost around 100euros for a simple INR test - and sometimes I need that weekly depending on what my blood results are so that I can keep them in my prescribed range :flushed::flushed:. All a bit scary. Many thanks, Carol

Hi Paul. Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately the new anti-coagulant programme isn’t compatible for me - I had that conversation with my doctor about a year ago and so it’s good old warfarin and regular INR appointments for me :face_with_thermometer:. Thanks again, Carol

Hi Carol.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the cost of a mutuelle here in France which is why I suggested Fabien . You can see the thread about him here.
IIRC it is against the law in France to discriminate against people with pre-existing ailments unlike the UK where you most certainly can expect to get ripped off.
We have a mutuelle arranged by Fabien and given that I have a number of ALD issues (affection de longue duree) the cost in my view is extremely reasonable for what we have selected as the level of cover required.
The reason for mentioning retirement is the issue of an S1 from DWP which usually comes with the UK State Pension meaning that heath care in France receives a contribution from HMG which will go some way towards satisfying the requirement to show to the French authorities that you meet the residency rules. We have been fiscally resident in France for 10 years now so this is less important to us as residency rules require a proven period of 5 years. How this may change after the dreaded Brexit is anyone’s guess but you stand a better chance I think if you are in place in France before the appropriate cut-off date :wink:

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Except you can’t sign up to a mutuelle until you have a social security number and are in the health system, i.e. until you are resident. Before that your only options are to self pay the amount not covered or take out private health insurance.

Thanks for the additional info Graham. We will certainly look into the link for Fabien and a mutuelle. So pleased to have found this forum so that we can tap into your knowledge. It’s all a lot to take in. And as for installing a new fosse … :flushed: Ooh la la! But that’s for another area of this great site :blush:.

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Aaah ok, thanks for that update Jane. So a mutuelle is not the route for us at the moment … :thinking:.

I think @fabien covers insurance of all sorts… certainly worth asking him… just click the link … @fabien …and use the Message facility…that you will see pop-up

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That sounds high…I have 8 things tested regularly and that comes to less than 50€. The prices are all regulated, so each blood test has a coefficient and the base cost of around 27 centimes is multiplied by that coefficient. So prothombine is B40 I think, so that would make it around 12 euros, of which you would get 70% reimbursed. Plus of course the cost of nurse and doctor as I said before, both reimbursed 70%.

Look up a laboratory near to where you will be and you can get an estimate from them, like here…

Thanks Stella. Will certainly check Fabien out :blush:

Hi Jane. That sounds much more reasonable. Will definitely be checking this out. :blush:

I presume that you intend to remain U.K. residents and have the French house as a holiday home. If so applying for a Carte Vitale and a mutuelle is irrelevant to you. If you intend spending up to 3 months in France at a time your UK doctor will probably provide you with sufficient medication for your stay and you will be able to pay for your blood tests in a clinic close to your holiday home. Your NHS sourced EHIC card will cover most of the costs but you might want to take out a travel insurance as well.
If you are intending to spend the majority of your time in France you will need to enter thecFrench health system, apply for a Carte Vitale and take out a top up mutuelle.

Have you ever found anyone who will accept an EHIC in lieu of payment? In the years before I moved over permanently and was only in France a few months a year I did have occasional need for medical services. Never once did anyone accept the EHIC. Most times they weren’t even interested in looking at it. Perfectly happy to treat me, but expected to be paid and then up to me if I claimed it back or not…

I thought you were supposed to keep receipts and send them to the CPAM in France for reimbursement.