The social security system in France
(Please note that information may change depending on the regulations in force when you arrive in France.)
In this section you will find information about:
- The French social protection system
- Affiliation to the CPAM (Primary Health Insurance Fund)
- CPAM Cardholders
- Doctors and pharmacies
- Additional health insurance
- Civil liability
- Statutory coverage for work accidents and occupational diseases
- Emergency numbers
The French social protection system allows anyone residing in France on a regular basis to benefit from Social Security to cover health costs. The funding of these services is mainly provided by contributions from all employees and employers declared in France.
Social security reimburses part of the health costs (medical visits, drugs, surgical procedures) and it is advisable to take an additional health insurance, that is to say insurance to pay monthly which will complement and therefore better reimburse expenses related to health costs with different rates, for example for glasses or dental care.
Note that each major affiliate now has their own Social Security number. It is however possible to request to be attached to your spouse's insured number as a Beneficiary.
New: All Students, whatever their age, will be attached to the General Social Security Scheme!
The French social security system is basically a number of statutory schemes:
- The compulsory general scheme which covers most employees and certain other categories (students, beneficiaries of certain benefits that have progressively come under the general scheme) ;
- Various "special" schemes covering specific categories of non-agricultural workers against all or some risks (usually old-age, with other risks being covered by the general scheme).
For more information, please consult the website of the CLEISS (Centre of European and International Liaisons for Social Security), in particular the webpages dedicated to sickness insurance and accidents-at-work and occupational-diseases branch.
To join social security, that is to say to benefit from reimbursements on medical expenses, you must apply to the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie).
The procedures vary depending on your personal and professional situation.
Access to care
The "Carte vitale" is your social insurance card. It certifies your affiliation and your rights to health insurance. You will find all the information to order it online.
In France, you can choose your doctor freely, but health insurance nevertheless requires you to choose a "treating doctor" by completing this form with him. Its role is to coordinate the various consultations and examinations necessary to monitor your health. This may be a general practitioner (for all health problems) or a specialist (specializing in specific pathologies in one or more parts of the body). It is this doctor that you should consult as a first resort, who can, if necessary, redirect you to a specialist doctor or any other health professional.
Please note: Non-approved doctors who have not signed an agreement with Social Security can set their own rates (which are higher).
In France, drugs can only be bought in pharmacies and pharmacists are able to advise patients on which drugs to take.
In case of an emergency at night, on weekends or during holidays, you can call a doctor on call.
Social security reimbursement is low, but good complementary health insurance can possibly reimburse these costs.
Social Security generally does not reimburse all health costs (around 70% of costs). This is why it is advisable - but not compulsory - to contribute to additional health insurance, which will cover a portion not reimbursed by Social Security.
If you are an employee, your employer must in principle offer you additional company health coverage whatever your seniority.
The rate of your contribution depends on the contract taken out by your employer, who bears part or even all of its cost.
If your employer does not offer you one, there are many, which offer formulas ensuring the more or less complete reimbursement of the costs remaining payable by the insured, as well as certain services, which are poorly or even not reimbursed by the Security. social (vaccines, glasses, dental prostheses, etc.).
If you are not an employee, you must take out additional health insurance yourself.
If you have few resources, you can benefit from Health Insurance Payment Assistance (ACS). The request must be made to the CPAM on which you depend.
The law of civil liability requires you to repair the damage you cause to others, whether through recklessness or infringement. You may also be held liable for damage caused by people, animals and objects for which you are responsible. So that the compensation of victims is not directly at your expense, you must have previously contracted a "civil liability guarantee" with your mutual or your bank for example.
It is important to note that some insurances (automobile, home, etc.) include civil liability guarantees, but which are generally limited. If you have already taken out such insurance, find out what it covers, to see if it is sufficient.
If you are not already covered, you must take out a liability insurance policy. For example, you can contact AXA via the Fnak website.
Double-check the nature and limit of the guarantees offered, to see if they correspond to your needs.
Finally, with regard to professional activity, although there are professional civil responsibilities exclusively reserved for practitioners (doctors, veterinarians, etc.), you will normally be covered by your host establishment, if it is of a public establishment: in France, the State is “its own insurer”. However, ask your host to find out if it is not necessary for you to take out specific insurance (private research).
When the researcher comes to France, most of the time he works in a laboratory. And when the researcher's stay in France results in the signing of an employment contract (the researcher is an employee), he is protected in the event of industrial accidents, without minimum wage conditions. He therefore automatically benefits from “Workplace Accident / Occupational Illness” (ATMP) coverage.
In the absence of an employment contract, for example when the researcher finances his research stay with his personal funds, or if he receives a research grant regardless of his origin (country of origin, French, European, etc.), he must make a voluntary application for the Accident at Work / Occupational Illness insurance (AT/MP) with the Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) of his place of residence.
They must complete a membership form that can be withdrawn from the CPAM or downloaded online. This form must be completed and submitted to the CPAM 48 hours before the start of the mission in the laboratory.
You will be able to join as a volunteer at a higher education institution. The subscription due will be paid per quarter.
Exception: if the self-employed researcher comes from a country that has signed a bilateral social security agreement with France, and depending on the content of this agreement, he may automatically benefit from AT / MP insurance.
To find out if the researcher's country of origin has signed this agreement, click here.
Note: the researcher can also subscribe to a Business Travel Insurance from his country of origin. Indeed, some private insurances cover their policyholders in the event of an accident occurring during their research in France.
The emergency numbers allow you to reach the emergency services 24 hours a day free of charge. Be sure to specify the following 3 points:
- Who am I? victim, witness, etc., give a phone number to stay reachable.
- Where am I? give the precise address of the place where the services must intervene.
- Why am I calling? Specify the reasons for your call.
European emergency number: 112 (emergency centre closest to the call point)
SAMU: 15 (medical emergencies)
Firefighters: 18 (serious emergencies)
Emergency number dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing people: 114
Free European number for missing children: 116000
SAMU social: 115 (emergencies concerning homeless people - 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
Allo abused childhood: 119
Pharmacies on duty: 3237 or http://www.3237.fr/