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Healthcare for UK Visitors to France

Nearly 10 million trips every year are made by British people to France, one of our nearest neighbours. Whatever the reason for your trip, it is important to be prepared for all eventualities. Most travellers will have heard that there are agreements between the UK and France for healthcare provision, but many are unaware of their rights and obligations.

EHIC In France

Doctors and hospitals which fall under the French state health care system are called “conventionné”. To complicate matters, these state providers are split into two tiers. The first tier are the wholly state doctors who will charge up to the rates covered by the French national insurance, and which are therefore free for UK EHIC holders. Tier two providers will charge a top up price over and above the state charges, and you will be expected to pay this too. As the situation is complicated, make sure you are clear about the type of doctor you are being referred to. A fluent French speaker is a definite asset in these circumstances as much of the website information is in French only. Being admitted to hospital can be costly; you will be expected to pay up to 20% of the cost of your treatment, plus a flat fee rate of around 18 euros per day for overnight stays. These sums can quickly mount up, so it is wise to consider additional travel insurance as well as the EHIC. Always get full bills in English where possible. Pharmacy medicines are state subsidised, but depending on the type of medication you will be expected to pay up to 85% of the full cost. If you are planning on living in France for a longer period, you should register with your local state health insurer as there are time limits to EHIC cover. Dental treatment will be charged upfront and fees can be claimed back later, up to given limits.

Travel Insurance in France

The French state medical system is not free, and a weeks’ stay in hospital with a complex medical issue can land you with a bill running into many hundreds of euros. Having travel insurance will help mitigate against this risk. Many policies will carry a small excess, but will cover most costs associated with being treated in a French hospital. Always get full receipts and invoices as you will need them to make a claim at a later date. Having private travel insurance might also give you the option of using the private sector for your treatment. In practice, many of the private “clinics” also work for the state sector, although some will charge top up fees. Always clarify with your insurance company what will be covered and what will not before agreeing to go ahead with any treatment. Travel insurance also has significant other benefits such as paying to get you home by regular flights or air ambulance – and if you are in one of the French overseas territories such as Martinique, flight costs could easily be thousands of pounds.