According to a World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent study, France provides the best overall health-care system in the world. Private medical insurance is mandatory for non-E.U. citizens wishing to take up residence in France. If you’re planning to be in France only for a vacation or on a fact-finding mission, you may be covered for foreign holiday travel by your insurance company back in the States. Check with them.
Once you move to France, you may be able to transfer your health-care plan to a French provider, or even to one of the many British companies that specialize in providing cover for expatriates. The cost depends on your age and medical history, but if you’re in good health, monthly premiums average $110. Private medical insurance covers hospital treatment, but you’ll probably have to cover the cost of doctor’s visits yourself.
The cost of a doctor’s care in France depends on whether you elect to see a médecin non conventionné—that is, a private doctor—or a médecin conventionné, a doctor who works within the French Social Security system. In France, doctors do make house calls. The cost is a little more than for an office visit and more still for a house-call at night, on the weekends, or on a public holiday. Also expect to pay the doctor in his office as soon as your visit is finished, rather than when he sends you a bill.
The conditions for reimbursement for medical expenses vary hospital to hospital. Unless it’s an emergency, you should check into the reimbursement conditions before you are signed in for hospital treatment. For instance, your health-care insurance policy may cover you for treatment only in a public hospital, not in a private clinic.
The French social security system covers treatment in public hospitals and clinics with conventionné status. You’ll be reimbursed 80% for treatment the first month and 100% thereafter. All surgical expenses are reimbursed 100%. Regardless of treatment and surgery costs, you’ll also be charged a non-reimbursable rate of approximately €8 ($9.50) per day for bed occupancy. At private clinics with non-conventionné status, you’ll be able to reclaim only about 10% of your medical expenses.
French Medical Emergency Services
If an emergency medical situation arises which you feel requires immediate medical assistance, the following information will be helpful.
Pompiers (Fire Brigade Department): dial 18.
The pompiers may send one of their own ambulances or they may alert the S.A.M.U. (Services d’aide medicale urgente), or SOS Medecins. They arrive on the scene faster and can provide basic life support. If a patient’s condition is unclear or appears critical, a car with specially trained firemen is usually sent ahead to administer first aid.
** In France, the S.A.M.U. is the national emergency organization. It has a 24-hour service and gives medical assistance for all medical emergencies. Its ambulances are manned by teams of trained personnel, and are equipped with emergency equipment for any cardiac or respiratory resuscitation. To reach the S.A.M.U, simply dial 15 or; 01 45 67 50 50.
The S.A.M.U. should be called for life-threatening conditions that require the assistance of trained medical professionals. These include: cardiac or respiratory emergencies (chest pain and/or shortness of breath), severe bleeding, severe asthma, stroke, and trauma resulting in multiple injuries.
Be brief and concise when speaking with the S.A.M.U. and give the precise address or location (if at home or in another building, please indicate the floor and the door code if any), your phone number, the caller and victim’s names, the age of the victim and a description of his medical condition.
You may be transferred directly to an English-speaking specialist in the emergency services who will identify the type of emergency based upon the information you give (he/she may decide to refer your call to another ambulance service, i.e. SOS Médecins, in the case of a less critical emergency). A family member or bystander who is aware of the situation may escort the emergency medical team if needed.
American Hospital of Paris
63, blvd. Victor Hugo
01 46 41 25 25
01 40 05 48 48
Burn Center at l‘Hôpital Cochin (emergency services for burns)
27, rue du Fbg. St. Jacques
01 46 60 00 00
27, rue du Fbg. St.Jacques
01 58 41 27 21
Hôpital Armand Trousseau (Children)
26, av. Dr. Arnold Netter
01 44 73 74 75
Hôpital Necker (Children)
146-151, rue de Sevres 75015 Paris
01 44 49 40 00
Pharmacies open 24 hours
784, av. des Champs Elysées
01 45 62 02 41
6, place Félix Eboué
01 43 43 19 03
SOS Dentists: (private company for emergencies)
01 42 46 11 20 weekdays 7:00 am-6:00 pm
01 43 37 51 00 weekdays 6:00 pm-midnight
Hospital Marmottan (private company for emergencies)
01 45 74 00 04
SOS Drogue International
61 rue Pajol, 75018 Paris
01 55 87 55 55
01 42 09 07 07 (emergencies)
SOS Help (English-speaking hotline open daily from 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m)
01 46 21 46 46
SOS Médecins (private company for emergency doctors)
01 47 07 77 77