Doctors or dentists working within the French sickness insurance scheme charge the official social security rates, now 23 euros per consultation. Specialists will charge more. You can check that a general practitioner  is ‘conventionné’ (working within this scheme) by consulting the local Caisse de Securité Sociale.

Some doctors are not ‘conventionné’ and charge an extra fee on top of the official rate. This is not reinbursable. They are the nearest equivalent to private practitioners in the UK. They must let you know in advance, or post their fees in their workplace.

Claiming your money back

If you do not have a *carte vitale
Unless you have a ‘carte vitale’ *(see below for more details) you will need to pay in full up front when you visit the doctor, chemist, or any medical expert. If you need to go to hospital in France, you should make sure that you take with you your E111 or E106, as hospital treatment can be expensive. Most hospitals will take your details from the form and bill you later if necessary. Remember that your E111/E106 does not cover all the cost.

To apply for reimbursement of medical expenses paid out, your doctor will give you a ‘feuille de soins’ each time that you visit, which you should take to your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) (For residents of France, this is now being replaced everywhere by the * CARTE VITALE – a green card intended to improve the administration for reimbursement of medical expenses. Find out more about this below)


If your doctor gives you a prescription, you should take the labels ( vignettes ) off the medicine containers and stick them on to your ‘feuille de soin’ which should also be sent/taken to the CPAM for reimbursement.

If you have a *carte vitale, this will not be necessary. (Social security cover in France is not 100% so it is advisable to take out further private insurance if you wish to cover excess charges. This is called a ‘ mutuelle ‘ or ‘complémentaire maladie’ .)

If you need hospital treatment, the Caisse de Sécurité Sociale will pay up to 80% of your charges directly, depending on your circumstances. You may not need to pay on the spot as long as you have the necessary forms ( E111, E106) [(You should use your E111 or European health card until the time when you are covered by the French health system.*

What is a ‘carte vitale’?

The carte vitale is a type of health card with microchip, similar in looks to a credit card and containing your personal details and all the information nececessary to prove your entitlement to the ‘French health service’ IT IS NOT A CREDIT CARD AND CANNOT BE USED FOR PAYMENT OF YOUR MEDICAL FEES OR ANY OTHER PAYMENT.

When you present it to any medical expert, they will be able to bring up the data relating to your payment status. You will still need to pay for your treatment ‘on the spot’ but will automatically receive, via the post, any monies due to be reinbursed to you (normally 70%). The carte vitale does NOT contain your medical details. It is purely adminstrative.

If you are diagnosed with a ‘chronic’ disease, you may well be taken on by the French medical system at 100%. This means that, on presentation of your carte vitale, the doctor will see that you have been accepted for reinbursement of all your fees. In this case, you will pay nothing ‘on the spot’ or subsequently, as the doctor will be paid directly by the CPAM

Some doctors, dentists etc are not yet computerised (or computer literate), and may still be using paper forms, despite your ‘carte vitale’. If so, you must follow the procedure above and take the forms to the CPAM if you wish for reinbursement.

How can I find out if I am entitled to a carte vitale ?

If you are working in France and have registered with all the necessary authorities (ie paying your taxes, registered unemployed etc) you are entitled to this card. ————————

(If you have anything that you would like to add to this page, or notice any errors, ommissions etc, please contact Kate

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