French Social Security

French Social Security and Health Care in France

As a French resident you will be entitled to social security benefits in France. As a French employee you will make contributions to French social security. The system is made up of many different bodies and is complicated to understand in detail. The following page gives you a broad outline of Social Security in France.

Contributions & Benefits
The French social security system is highly complex and constitutes over twenty organisations each concerned with collecting or allocating contributions for various welfare programs.

As an employee your social security contributions will be deducted at source and indicated in your pay slip (bulletin de paie). URSSAF is the principle organisation responsible for your contributions although others may well be cited.

Your social security contributions in France support welfare programs such as unemployment benefit, basic health care, state retirement and family benefits which you are also entitled to as a French resident.

Your employer will explain these standard contributions to you in detail and may also offer extended health cover (mutuelle), deducted at source.

Certain categories of people will fall under a different regime, for example, if you are self employed or retired. It is important to approach the relevant bodies to assess your situation for contributions or benefits.

If eligible for social security you will be issued with a registration number and card – the carte vitale is issued to the insured employee and lists the members of the family that are also covered. Remember to keep all bills, stickers and receipts and your social security number must be quoted on all medical documentation, bills, prescriptions so that you will be able to be reimbursed.

Prescriptions
If you are on a prescription you will normally be able to have your prescription filled from a French pharmacy although you may be provided with a different brand or alternative if the exact product does not exist on the French market.

Different countries class different products differently and some over the counter drugs that you get in your home country may require a prescription in France. It would be sensible to bring a stock of products with you for the first month or two as well as copies of your medical records.

Social Security
France has a compulsory social security system which covers retirement, unemployment and national health. Contributions to the various schemes are paid by companies, employees and professionals.
 
If you are coming to France as an expatriate and are employed and paid by your company in France, the formalities will be taken care of by your company and you will contribute to, and be eligible for, social security in the same way as a French national.
 
If you are coming to France on temporary assignment the situation will be slightly more complicated. You may be covered by social security agreements between your country of origin and France.  (e.g. EU countries and US) in which case your company will take care of the formalities, although you may also need to register with your local social security office.
 
It is worth checking with the embassy in your country of origin about social security coverage agreements with France. If you can not be covered make sure that your company provide ample private coverage for your health care.
 
Reimbursement
If eligible for social security you will be issued with a registration number and card – this card is issued to the insured employee and lists the members of the family that are also covered. Remember to keep all bills, stickers and receipts and your social security number must be quoted on all medical documentation, bills, prescriptions so that you will be able to be reimbursed.
 
Remember that Social security will only cover the portion of the bill that is ‘conventionee’ so check with doctors, hospitals before you make the appointment. The excess charges can be covered by an independent (mutuelle) insurance which may be provided by your employer or taken privately and also covers dentistry and glasses. These too however are strict in the type of charges they will cover.