Updates to expat health coverage

Changes have been introduced to make the French healthcare easier for foreigners to access; this includes obtaining your Carte Vitale.

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It has just been announced that from 1st January 2016, ANYONE who has moved to France from abroad and has been living in the country as a permanent resident can apply for French healthcare coverage. This means that if you are intending to move to France, or have already moved, and are not working; you can apply for your Carte Vitale once you have lived here for three months on a ‘stable and regular’ basis.
 
This policy change equalises rights for EU citizens with non-EU citizens, who already had the right to apply for their Carte Vitale after three months’ permanent residence in France, whilst EU residents were obliged to wait five years.
 
This reform, called the ‘protection universelle maladie’, simplifies what some have seen as unfair legislation for EU citizens and their supposed free movement within the European Union.
 
"This policy rights equalises rights for EU citizens with non-EU citizens"
 
Simplified Health Insurance for Foreigners in France
If you have no professional activity, regardless of your age, the protection universelle maladie guarantees a right to the reimbursement of most of your health costs (70% on average), and the application system is now much simpler. Individuals need to complete the correct form from l’Assurance Maladie, and send this back with the requested supporting documents to your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office. You will find a CPAM office in most towns in France. Top-up or complementary insurance (une mutuelle) can be taken for full reimbursement of most medical costs.
 
Documents Required to Apply for Health Insurance in France
  • Photocopy of your official birth certificate – the jury is still out at the moment as to whether you need to supply a certified translation (traduction assermentée); there are more reforms happening in order to dispense with the necessity to provide these within Europe. However, until these reforms become official and until that news reaches the CPAM offices, we recommend that you add a certified translation into your application file.
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Proof of your permanent residence in France for more than three months – this can be a copy of your lease, your title or deed (Acte de Vente), gas, electricity or fixed-line phone bills.
  • A RIB (your bank details)
  • If you have dependent children at home with you, you need to complete an additional form from l’Assurance Maladie.
 
"You will need to provide your health insurance provider with a copy of your passport, among other pieces of important documentation"
 
Submitting Your French Health Insurance Application
Once you have everything together and have filled in the forms, you can hand these in to your local CPAM office or send it via post. They will study your situation and your rights. If necessary (i.e. if you are non-working but under state retirement age), they will then write and ask you to send proof of income so they can calculate your contributions. You will then receive a temporary Social Security number, followed by a request for a photograph for your Carte Vitale, which you should receive next. Note that timescales may not shorten with this reform, but as soon as you have your temporary number (between 4-6 weeks), you can start claiming your costs back.
 
Complementary CMU (CMU complémentaire) is still in place
The basic CMU, which has been replaced with the protection universelle maladie, should not be confused with the complementary CMU (CMU complémentaire). CMU complémentaire is the French state’s free top-up health insurance for those living here in a stable and regular manner and on low incomes — it complements the new protection universelle maladie. CMU complémentaire is means-tested and only available to those below a certain income threshold. 
 
We can vouch for the excellence of the French healthcare system: it really is one of the best in the world. The clinical care is tip top and the hospitals are ultra-modern and well equipped.

Further reading for Living In France

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Healthcare

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