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Health insurance

Your Health Insurance in France

In France, health insurance for employees is mandatory. This will help cover the costs of medical expenses for you and your family throughout your entire stay. Here is a guide to help you understand what you need to do about your health cover in France.

If you are a CEA employee

Upon your arrival, you will need to join the National Health Insurance program ("Assurance Maladie"). The CEA will assist you in the process. Make sure you provide the CEA with all the required documents as soon as possible, as the process may take several months. The sooner your completed application is submitted, the sooner you will benefit from full coverage.

If you are coming with your spouse or children, they will benefit from the same coverage. Do not forget to inform the CEA on your first day of work that you are coming with your spouse or children. This way, the CEA will fill in an application for your family at the same time.

To join the National Health Insurance program, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • two full birth certificates for you and every person coming with you (translated into French by a certified translator),
  • a marriage certificate if you are married (translated into French by a certified translator),
  • a RIB or relevé d’identité bancaire (In France, the RIB is a document provided by your bank which shows your banking details such as your account number. For more information on banking, see our Opening a bank account section).

Once you have joined the Assurance Maladie, you will receive a certificate stating your personal data ("attestation Vitale"). After this, you will receive your health insurance card called carte Vitale. You will have to send a copy of these two documents to the CEA. Keep both your carte Vitale and this certificate throughout your entire stay as they will be required for administrative procedures.

You will have to bring your carte Vitale to each medical appointment. Your carte Vitale contains all elements needed to benefit from full coverage, i.e. your social security number, personal data (for you and relatives under 16 depending on you), and data about the terms of your subscription.

Even before you receive your carte Vitale, you can see a doctor if you need to. If you still have not received your carte Vitale, your doctor will give you medical bills ("feuilles de soins"). Make sure to keep all medical bills. Once you have received your carte Vitale, send these bills for reimbursement to your CPAM.

Please keep in mind that you cannot pay with your carte Vitale . You will have to pay for medical procedures. To have the partial reimbursement deposited on your French bank account, you will have to present your carte Vitale.

To ensure full eligibility to reimbursement of your health costs, you are required to register with a doctor as your médecin traitant. For this, you must choose a GP and ask him/her to fill the déclaration de choix de médecin traitant. You will need to send this form back to your local CPAM (Health Insurance agency).

Some medical fees are not reimbursed. For further information regarding healthcare in France, you can call an English speaking operator on the French Health Insurance Advice Line. Dial 0 811 36 36 46 from France (local call price from fixed-phone line) or 0033 811 36 36 46 from foreign countries. The advisors will be able to answer all your general questions and they will act as intermediaries with local CPAM on individual cases.

Top up insurance or mutuelle complémentaire

As a CEA employee, you will automatically join a top up insurance called SMAPRI. This will help cover additional costs which are not reimbursed by the Assurance Maladie. Do not hesitate to contact the International Office for more information.

If you are not a CEA employee

Health insurance is mandatory to work in France. Two solutions are available to you:

  • you can come with an assurance that you purchased in your country, covering health care, work accidents and repatriation,
  • you can come without health insurance, in which case the CEA will assist you in joining a private health insurance program.

If you are an EU national and you are affiliated to a social security program in your country

In this case, let them know, as soon as possible, that you are leaving. Your national social security program will issue a European Health Insurance Card ("Carte européenne d’assurance maladie") which you must bring to France. This will allow you to maintain your health cover during your stay in France. Please inform the CEA that you are going through this procedure.

You have just moved house

Let your CPAM know your address has changed:

  • On the Internet through your Ameli account: fill in the form in the "Mon profil / Mon adresse postale" section. You will indicate your new address and when you moved house.
  • By phone, dial 36 46 *: you will reach the CPAM of your new département. A health insurance advisor will answer your request and will tell you the procedure to follow with your médecin traitant or your bank. Your new CPAM will transfer your file.
    * local call rate from a landline.
  • On the mon.service-public.fr website - in the "Changement de coordonnées " section. This online procedure will help you indicate your new address to several organizations such as Caf (the Family Allowance Fund), CPAM (Health Insurance Fund), the pension fund...

Keep in mind that you must update your carte Vitale as soon as you receive a letter from your new CPAM. For this, just go to the nearest pharmacy. You will be able to update your card there using a machine.

You have switched bank, bank agency or bank account

Send a new Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB) or Relevé d’Identité Postale (RIP) to your CPAM, indicating your social security number.

What you need to know

The French refer to their health insurance program as Assurance Maladie, Sécurité Sociale or CPAM. All these terms are generally used to describe the National Health Insurance program.

For more information please download the European Commission guide "Your social security rights in France".