Hospitals & Healthcare in France

According to a recent survey, French hospitals rank number one in the world for their health service and care.

Fortunately, we haven’t really had to put this credential to the test, but we haven’t heard anything about the French system that would suggest otherwise.

Basically the way it works is that everyone is entitled to healthcare in France, whether they have insurance or not and even if they are not affiliated into the system. The fee is the same and the only difference is how much will be reimbursed.

However, I believe it can prove faster to see a specialist in a hospital than it is to see an optometrist in the High Street. When I recently started to find it harder to see my computer screen (whilst still being able to reach the keyboard!), I was told that I would have to wait some time for a rendez-vous with my local optician.

Being a little impatient with these things, I made an appointment with a UK optician on my last visit across the Channel. I had my £20 eye test and walked away with the prescription. Then ordered my glasses - at a fraction of the UK or French prices - from Glasses Direct (see below for a link). The glasses cost me less than the eye test, so I think I got myself a bargain.

Now back to the hospital bit. If you’re just visiting France on a reconnaissance trip, the easiest way to cover yourself is to fill out an E111, (soon to be replaced by the European health card) which covers you for emergency treatment. You can get these from your local post office and they’re normally quite helpful when it comes to letting you know what your entitlements are.

For long term and permanent stays, however, you will need to arrange to pay into the French system, even if you continue to make National Insurance Contributions in the UK.

Below is a list of articles, documents and pages that should help you when it comes finding out how to integrate into the French healthcare system.

Department for Work and Pensions:

This is probably your best first port of call for finding out what you are entitled to in terms of benefits and for how long. There are also downloadable forms and links to other departments, including information on the new health card.

Good Health Worldwide

The Good Health Worldwide document has very useful information about the costs, benefits and processes associated with affiliation into the French system. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view it, so if you haven’t got it, click here

French Ministry of Health Contains detailed information about the health service, insurance, nutrition, public health and safety and much more.