Health insurance for expats in France

Health insurance in France

France’s health system is a world-beater. In June 2000, the World Health Organization reported on the state of the health systems of 191 countries. The UK came 18th, the USA came 37th and France came 1st. The cost of achieving that ranking and of maintaining it is expensive and it is possible only because France’s citizens contribute to it out of their own pockets.


French residents who are not exempted from contributing to their own health insurance (e.g. the retired, those with a serious or long term illness and the disabled), need to contribute to France’s state health insurance to benefit from it. The same applies for qualifying expatriate residents. (See the bottom of this page for a little more information on the help we can offer you.)

Even so, the amount of health cover to which residents are entitled will not cover 100% of the actual cost. (Please read our blog article about the 2020-2021 reforms to the reimbursement system of the French health insurance system, as this updates aspects of this page and describes plans for 100% reimbursement in certain circumstances.) The state will pay for perhaps 70 – 80% of this cost – and residents have to pay the rest. For example, a stay in a major university hospital in France – even without surgical intervention – can cost in the region of 800 euros a day. In this example, a patient with no more than the basic state health cover would have to pay perhaps 240 – 160 euros a day.

This boils down to expatriate residents needing one of two types of health insurance policy: (a) ‘top-up’, mutuelles or complémentaires policies OR (b) longer-term policies for expatriates who are either no longer covered in their country of origin or who are not affiliated to the French social security health cover. Prevencia offers both types of health insurance cover.


Alternatively, we offer short-term health insurance for new arrivals to France


We have a flexible health insurance policy available for those who have just arrived in France and have yet to gain entry to the French health system. (This is different from our health insurance cover for long-term expatriate residents in France, and is suitable for those who are looking for temporary cover for up to 12 months.)

Much more information is available on our health insurance for new arrivals to France page.

Private health insurance for those in the French system

To bridge the gap between what one is entitled to and the actual costs, France has adopted a system of ‘top-up’ or private health insurance. These policies are also known as mutuelles or complémentaires. About 85% of French nationals subscribe to such policies (and they are equally available to expatriates of different nationalities). These insurance policies can provide you with comprehensive health insurance and peace of mind, but they can be complicated to understand, not just because they come in a bewildering array . . . which is where we at our Eauze office come in because we can explain the differences between our Generali policies and help you choose a policy that is appropriate to your needs. 

Health insurance

It helps to know in advance that these ‘top-up’ policies come with some clear ‘rules’:

  • In France, there is no ‘excess’ where you pay more the more you claim.
  • You cannot be refused ‘top-up’ insurance because you have an existing condition or even if you are disabled.
  • You will be covered up to the limit of the policy without additional questions being asked.
  • If a ‘top-up’ policy (once taken out) is not cancelled in the first two years, the insurance company cannot subsequently cancel it themselves. They also cannot dramatically increase your premiums. At Generali, we guarantee you this from the moment you sign up.

(Please read our blog article about the 2020-2021 reforms to the reimbursement system of the French health insurance system, as this updates aspects of this page and describes plans for 100% reimbursement in certain circumstances.)

Long-stay expatriate health insurance for those not in the French system

We can offer health insurance cover for longer-term expatriates who are neither affiliated to the French system or eligible to benefits from their country of origin, but who nevertheless plan to be in France for more than 12 months.

APRIL International offer cover on a longer-term basis with the MyTravel International policy. This is suitable for longer-term expatriates or travellers who haven’t yet plugged themselves into France’s official health system and who may no longer be covered by the benefits system in their country of origin. This package includes:

  • Cover is available from the 1st €/USD as well as a top-up of La Caisse des Français à l’étranger (CFE) or the French Social Security system.
  • There are 4 cover levels: Emergency (emergency cover), Essential (basic cover of the most common healthcare costs), Comfort (comfortable cover of the most common medical expenses), Premium (comprehensive cover with no upper limit)
  • Flexible medical expenses benefits and basic repatriation assistance automatically includes: hospitalization, outpatient benefits, maternity, optical/dental
  • Optional additional benefits for all-round protection include: Comprehensive repatriation assistance and personal liability (in a private not business capacity), Death and total and irreversible loss of autonomy lump sum, Income replacement during periods of sick leave from work.
  • Multiple advantages are available to reduce the premiums: Community discounts (from 2% to 10% per plan based on the number of plans), 5 levels of optional and/or annual deductibility. For families, the premium does not increase from the third child.

Brochures and policies are in English, as is the 24/7 telephone assistance. Android, iOS and Windows apps are available to manage your policy and claims.

All policy variations have as standard a system of direct payment of your hospital charges, meaning that you don’t have to front bills yourself and then wait to be reimbursed.

Download an informative brochure (in English)

The above policy comes highly recommended by Prevencia. It represents the best of what is available by way of health insurance for longer-stay expatriates who are not covered by the French system. You can download APRIL Internationals’ super-informative brochure directly from our website using the link below. We also welcome any questions about this policy.

Request a quotation for one of these health insurance policies

If you wish to explore one of these health insurance options, we can provide you with a no obligation quotation.

You can telephone us directly on: +33 (05 62 03 70 00).

What health cover am I already entitled to here in France?

If you have just started your residency in France and are uncertain what you entitlements are, feel free to contact us. We’ll be able to advise you on your options. If you are self-employed here in France, the situation is a little more complicated. Ask our advice!

Getting into the French social security system

To begin with you will need your S1 and S2 forms (replacements for ‘E’ forms E111, E104, E106, E109, E112, E121). Beyond this, please feel free to contact us and ask our advice.