Cited as having the best health care system in the world, France offers foreign legal residents access to high quality affordable health care. Foreigners without legal resident status can obtain access to France’s quality health care by purchasing affordable private health insurance. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
It’s not unusual for people to move to France to seek the benefits of France’s universal health care program. The cost that you’ll pay for health care is low, and the quality is high. According to the World Health Organization, France has the best health care system in the world.
I’ve been on the system since arriving in France in 1994—for the first 10 years with private health care and then acquiring the Carte Vitale (social security card) entitling me to all the benefits. Being under the age of 60, my social security payments are approximately 1,500 euro ($2,175) per year, plus I top it up with 900 euro ($1,300) a year with a mutuelle (complementary policy) providing 100% coverage including dental benefits.
In past years, my out-of-pocket expense has averaged about 10% of the total medical costs. So, my total monthly expense is about 220 euro ($320). At this low cost, services have included a fair amount of dental work, new prescription eyeglasses each year, annual check-ups, emergency hospitalization, preventative radiography, and even minor surgery…and still little personal expenditure!
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My status in France is as a “foreign legal resident.” Anyone can obtain this status as long as you can prove you can either support yourself or have guaranteed employment. It’s a typically bureaucratic process to become a legal resident, but it’s not difficult, and you can then access the French health care program through making payments to the social security system.
Even if you’re not a legal resident, private health insurance is accessible and amazingly affordable. The Jefferson Health Care Plan offered by Adinas-Diot, an insurance broker in central Paris with a history of service to the expatriate market, is under 100 euro ($145) per month for ages 25 to 49 for 100% coverage (of the pre-set social security rates) including eye care and dental, with no deductible. If you’re 50-64, the rate is less than 150 euro ($215) per month; 65-69 is about 210 euro ($300) per month; and over 70 is 230 euro ($335) per month. An equivalent insurance in the United States could not only cost at least three times that, but would carry a heavy deductible.
Better than the added bucks in your pocket thanks to France’s bargain health care, the quality of the care itself is par excellence. The country’s SOS Médecins Association provides experienced doctors on call 24 hours a day to respond within a short amount of time (normally 30 minutes), make home visits…and it’s reimbursed by social security.
SAMU is the French hospital-based emergency medical service accessible by simply dialing “15.” Hospital emergency services assume everyone has health coverage and therefore don’t require proof of insurance prior to treatments. In almost all cases, medication, office visits, radiology, and laboratory testing is well under priced in comparison to the U.S. This past year, a close friend suffered a stroke, spent 32 days in a French hospital with what she claims was amazing care. Even though the bills amounted to more than 40,000 euro, her personal contribution was only a little more than 200 euro!
Plus there is one factor that puts France’s health care at the top of the list that cannot go unmentioned—the physicians themselves. I have found that because these professionals are running a practice rather than a business (having to deal with the insurance companies to recuperate their high overheads) they don’t need to see as many patients. They have plenty of time to spend with you as an individual as well as take interest in you as their patient.
In this way, not only is the bottom line a bargain, but it’s the best bargain you’re going to get just about anywhere in the world.
This article has been republished from International Living.