A basic overview
Health coverage is required for all people living in France. It is designed to cover you in case of health related expenses (doctor’s visit, medicine, hospitalization), which can be considerable.
Based on your personal situation (age, reason for being in France, employment contract, grants, length of your stay, etc.), the French social security system (commonly referred to as “la Sécu”) will be either:
- Possible but optional, with limited access for the first few months
- Impossible, for all or part of your stay
If your situation makes it so that French Social Security is not required, you can or must be covered by other means for all or part of your stay, in which case:
- Either you may remain affiliated with your health insurance provider in the country in which you are insured (check to make sure that they cover you in France) and, when applicable, start the process to be covered during your stay in France
- Or you must sign up for private insurance in France or in your regular country of residence for all or part of your stay (for scholarship holders with Campus France, contact Campus France to learn more about your coverage possibilities)
You will find examples of the most common instances below. By no means should this replace a personalized analysis specific to your situation and, when applicable, to that of your family accompanying you.
Before taking any steps on your own, we recommend that you contact your acc&ss center or the establishment to which you are affiliated to ensure that you follow the appropriate procedure for your specific situation.
Do not forget to specify if your spouse and/or your children are or will be staying with you in France.
Access to Social Security
You are a PhD student enrolled in a PhD program in a French establishment, you have a student card, and are not a paid employee (doctoral contract, CIFRE contract…): you can benefit from social security for free. To find out how to register, please consult the following rubric: Students and Social Security
You are a PhD student in an international joint thesis program: this will depend on your program contract and how long you will stay in France. If you will be staying in France for fewer than three months, you are not eligible for social security.
You are a PhD student and employed in France (you have a doctoral contract, a CIFRE agreement…): you will be registered for social security based on professional criteria. For the appropriate steps to take, consult the Researchers and Social Security section and begin your registration application process as soon as possible.
If you are a non-European PhD student and have a visa/residence permit “researcher – talent passport” because you have a contract in France (doctoral contract, CIFRE…), please refer to the section Specific instance of paid employees with a “Researcher – Talent Passport” or “Scientist – Researcher” visa or residence permit.
Your underage children (younger than 18)
If you yourself are signed up for French social security, your children can be covered by it as well (younger than 18). They are your “dependents.” However, this coverage is not automatic and must be requested.
To request coverage for your under-age children as beneficiaries, you must fill in the application for coverage of minors under one or both of the parents’ insurance form and send it (by submitting or mailing it) to your Health Insurance Office (CPAM), in addition to the supporting documents requested on the form.
You spouse and your children of majority age (over 18)
They must sign up for insurance as individuals based on their situation during their stay (employed, unemployed, length of stay…).
Sometimes referred to as “mutual insurance,” it reimburses the co-payment after deduction of the lump sum contribution (costs not covered by social security). It is optional but strongly recommended.
Beneficiaries: all persons registered with social security (affiliation based on professional or residence related criteria).
Procedure: first check to see if you have additional insurance for students or through your employer if you are employed.
Many private insurance companies offer supplementary health insurance packages.
The French Social Security Offices (l’Assurance Maladie) offer a Supplementary Health Care Aid (Complémentaire santé solidaire), with or without financial participation, based on your income. You can simulate your eligibility on the Ameli website to find out if you are eligible for this supplementary health care. With the Supplementary Health Care Aid, in most cases, you do not need to pay, fill out, or send any forms to your health insurance fund. Upfront payments are waived.
To request the supplementary health care aid, you must either complete the application online using your Ameli account, or fill out the application form for supplementary health care aid and address it by mail to the Social Security offices (CPAM) of your place of residence, along with the supporting documents requested in the form.
Health insurance for travel, health insurance for expats…
Many companies offer insurance packages based on the length of coverage (fewer than 3 months, up to 12 months, more than 12 months…) and the type of stay in France (tourism, professional, studies…). It is important to do your research regarding what the insurance actually covers and be careful of exceptions:
- Only emergency/accident expenses
- Common medical expenses (medical consultations, medicine, laboratory tests…)
Of course, the less expensive the insurance, the greater the chances of the insurance being restrictive (and thus with fewer reimbursements) and larger deductibles.
Please note: when you stay in France for longer than 3 months, it is essential that you sign up for full insurance coverage.
A few of the most well-known French insurance companies
Among the most well-known companies are:
- ACS AMI: http://www.acs-ami.com (many packages designed for students and researchers)
- April International : http://www.april-international.com
- AVI International : http://www.avi-international.com (travel insurance)
Packages negotiated for PhD students and researchers
- Personalized health insurance regardless of the length of your stay
- Insurance for all medical expenses, without repatriation insurance (additional insurance may be taken out)
- Packages for additional insurance / private insurance are also available
- For more information, you can contact the ABC Assurances agency directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.ameli.fr: online French health insurance
All contact details are available on ameli.fr / Ameli portal for insured persons: go to “Adresses et contacts” > “un autre sujet” > “Dans un de nos points d’accueil” (in one of our reception points).
Phone: 3646 From Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – service charge €0.06 / minute + call price
The CPAM provides a telephone information service in English at 09 74 75 36 46 (from France) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. From abroad, dial 00 33 974 75 36 46.
http://www.cleiss.fr: the CLEISS, Center for European and International Social Security Liaisons, “Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale”, a national public establishment whose job it is to provide information regarding social protections in the context of international mobility
https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=13750&langId=fr: the European Commission’s guide: “Your Rights to Social Security in France” (“Vos droits en matière de sécurité sociale en France”)