The French healthcare system is based on statutory health insurance (SHI) that has universal and compulsory coverage. Lists of procedures, drugs and medical devices covered under the SHI are defined at the national level and apply to all regions of the country. All SHI insurers are incorporated into a single national exchange and delivery of care is shared among different service providers. There are private (independent) physicians, public hospitals, private non-profit making hospitals and private profit-making hospitals.
You can obtain medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), when you are temporarily staying in France. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay.
You will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. It is advisable to carry copies of your European Health Insurance Card with you, along with the card itself. If you didn’t have your EHIC with you or it was not accepted, and you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.
Before accessing care, you should make sure that the service provider is contracted (conventionné / agréé) by the French healthcare system.
The contact information for the doctors (médecin conventionné) and the hospitals or clinics under contract within the French healthcare system is available from the local sickness funds (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie, CPAM) or on the Annuaire Santé website. These funds can also be contacted to claim reimbursement for medical expenses.
In overseas territories, the primary sickness fund is the Caisse Générale de Sécurité Sociale. The European Health Insurance Card can be used in the following overseas territories of France: Mayotte, Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin.
Before making an appointment with a doctor, ensure that the doctor is “conventionné”, that is, they have an agreement with the national healthcare system. At the doctor’s practice, you will pay for all of the treatment expenses yourself. There are two types of conventionné doctors: some charge according to the official social security rates (secteur 1), while others charge an additional payment on top of the official rate (secteur 2). In both cases, CPAM will cover a part of your medical expenses. The amount of reimbursement is fixed, which means that your share of the payment can vary depending on the doctor that you choose. You will receive a certificate (feuille de soins) that contains the information regarding the amount of payment. You need this certificate when applying for reimbursement from the local CPAM.
You can receive your prescription medicine at a pharmacy by presenting the certificate of treatment (”feuille de soins”) and the prescription. At the pharmacy, you pay for your medicine yourself and receive another certificate of treatment. Sign and date the “feuille de soins” certificates that you receive. Submit the certificates, prescriptions and a copy of your European Health Insurance Card (or a temporary certificate) to the local sickness fund while you are still in France. You also need to enter your permanent address and bank details in the certificate of treatment. The reimbursement is calculated on the basis of reference prices. Not all medicines are covered; in this case, you will need to pay for the medicine yourself.
A doctor will provide you with a referral for hospital treatment. In case of urgent illness, you can go straight to a hospital. Show your European Health Insurance Card and your identity card.
In addition to a public hospital, you can also go to a private hospital or clinic as long as they have the conventionné contract. 80 % or, in some cases, 100 % of your hospital treatment costs are covered.
For outpatient care at a hospital clinic, you can apply for reimbursement from the sickness fund retrospectively (using a similar procedure as the one for doctor visits).
Ambulance transport is subject to a charge in France unless a doctor can confirm that the transport was necessary due to the patient’s state of health. For air ambulance transport, a doctor must confirm that an air ambulance is actually needed and advance permission from the local CPAM is also required.
Hospital treatment in France is not entirely free. This means that, in general, certain costs for treatment will remain at your responsibility (daily fees for hospital treatment, co-payments for certain medical services and lump sums for transportation for medical care).
If your illness requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety. You are recommended to take out a travel insurance that covers these costs.
Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.
Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.
If you wish to travel to France for the purpose of using healthcare services, you can find general information on our site concerning seeking treatment abroad. Some useful sources of information are also listed below. You should direct your questions about healthcare in France to the French National Contact Point.
The social security liaison centre CLEISS (Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale) provides detailed information concerning EU citizens’ healthcare in France.
You can search for healthcare service providers on the Annuaire Santé website that is maintained by the French health insurance institute. The site is in French. You can search for healthcare professionals (un professionnel de santé) or hospitals and other treatment facilities (un établissement de soins). You can also search according to locality and specialisation.
Quality and safety of treatment
All doctors operating in France are registered in the Medical Council of France (Le Conseil National de l’Ordre des Médecins). The council is responsible for the quality and safety of the treatment provided to patients. On the website, you can find information on the patient’s rights in France.
Healthcare service providers operating in France are responsible for publishing the quality and safety indicators that concern the treatment they provide. More information is available on the website Scope Santé. The website of the French contact point also contains information concerning the regional and national quality control of the healthcare provided in the country.
In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider. The national contact point can help you with finding the right authority if you wish to make a complaint.