Before going to France, you should apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the Department of Health on 0845 606 20 30, which gives you cover for emergency medical treatment. As soon as you take up a job or have had your state pension transferred, you need to be registered with the French Social Security.
NB: There are specific regulations for registration with the social security if you work in France:
- for less than 12 months for an employer based in the UK
- as a self employed,
- and members of your family have their residence in the UK
- and in any other member state at the same time.
Department for Work and Pensions
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE NE98 1BA
Tel: 0191 213 5000
Make sure any doctor or dentist you consult is « conventionné » e.g. works with the French sickness insurance scheme. The local Caisse de Sécurité Sociale (or C.P.A.M.) keeps a list of the doctors who charge the official social security rate. You should apply for a refund of your expenses to your local C.P.A.M.
If you are given a prescription, take the « vignettes » (detachable stamps) off the medicine containers, stick them on the « feuille de soins » and send this along with the prescription to your local C.P.A.M. to apply for a refund.
French social security cover for medical treatment is only partial and it may therefore be wise to take out insurance to cover the excess charges you will incur should you need treatment (« mutuelle » or « complémentaire maladie » - contact insurance companies for subscription).
Hospital treatment: If you get treatment in an approved hospital then the Caisse de Sécurité Sociale will pay direct 80% or more of the costs to the hospital. You are liable for the balance and the fixed daily hospital charge (« forfait journalier »).
For further information on sickness benefits and maternity benefits, please contact the DWP, medical Benefit section (see address above).