Student: your health insurance coverage

26 août 2019

Are you beginning or continuing your studies at one of France’s institutes of higher education? In most cases, no further paperwork is required. Here is what you need to know about your health insurance coverage as a student, how to maximize your reimbursements, and whom to contact.

Your circumstances

You are registering at a French institute of higher education for the first time in fall 2019 and you qualify for universal health care coverage (“protection universelle maladie”) through ongoing legal residency in France.

The ongoing residency requirement will be met with no waiting period when you submit proof of your student status.

The legal residency requirement applies to foreign students who come to France for their education. Please refer to our article entitled “Vous venez étudier en France” (“The French social security registration process for foreign students”).

You will not need to pay any French social security contributions. However, you will need to pay a student activity and campus fee (“contribution vie étudiante et de campus”) to your Crous center (“centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires”).

If you are leaving France to study abroad, please refer to our article entitled “Etudes à l’étranger: votre prise en charge” (“Study abroad: your health care coverage”).

If you already belong to the French social security system

No paperwork is required. You will not need to change compulsory health insurance schemes in order to be reimbursed for your health care expenses.

You will remain a member of your current social protection scheme. This is generally the one your parents belong to, unless you are working in an occupation that requires membership in a different scheme (the general scheme, the agricultural scheme, or one of the special schemes).

You will be covered in your own right from the age of 18. Before age 18, you were most likely covered for your health care expenses as a beneficiary on one or both of your parents’ or your guardian’s insurance account. You can also apply to your health insurance fund to be covered in your own right from the age of 16.

You will need to fill out and submit the form entitled “Demande de prise en charge des frais de santé à titre personnel” (“Application for individual health insurance coverage”) and open an ameli account.

If you are a resident of New Caledonia or Wallis and Futuna, or you are a French citizen who was born abroad

In this case, you do not belong to a social protection scheme in metropolitan France. When you come to metropolitan France or to one of France’s overseas departments or regions (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion, or Mayotte) to begin or continue your studies, you will need to register online on etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr for membership in the French social security system while you are enrolled in school. Please refer to our article entitled “Vous venez étudier en France” (“The French social security registration process for foreign students”).

From the age of 16, you are required to choose and declare a referring doctor. Without a referring doctor, you will have your medical expenses reimbursed at a lower .

Choosing your referring doctor

You can choose a general practitioner or a specialist, whether they see patients in a private practice or in a hospital setting. We simply recommend that you choose the doctor who knows you the best. As your referring doctor is the first person you go to for any health issues, you will receive coordinated follow-up and personalized preventive care.

If you have not declared a referring doctor or visit a specialist directly (not including those with authorized direct access), your health insurance fund will reimburse you at a lower .

For more information, please refer to the article on the Coordinated healthcare pathway (“Parcours de soins coordonnés”).

Once you have chosen your referring doctor, you will need to inform your local health insurance fund (CPAM) about it.

Is it better to choose a referring doctor near your home or in the town where you are studying ? There is no hard and fast rule. Choose the solution that works best for you. If you get sick when you are out of town, you can see another doctor, who will specify this on your reimbursement claim and you will be reimbursed at the usual .

Declaring your referring doctor (“médecin traitant”)

Once you have chosen your referring doctor, you will need to inform your local health insurance fund (CPAM) about it.

The process can be completed online if the doctor you have chosen as your referring doctor offers to do so and you agree. Practically speaking, during an appointment at his/her practice, you can give the doctor your “carte Vitale” insurance card and the doctor will make the report online and submit it electronically to your local health insurance fund (CPAM).

Otherwise, you and the doctor can fill in and sign the “Declaring a referring doctor”form (form No. S3704, entitled “Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant”) together and submit it to your local health insurance fund, or send it by post.

To be noted

There is no need to make a special appointment with your doctor to declare him/her as your referring doctor. Rather, you can complete the process during your next appointment or the next time you stop by his/her office.

Youths under age 18 need the agreement and signature of an adult with parental rights.

You will need to submit a new declaration if you change referring doctor or if the doctor you have chosen get retired, changes profession, or moves.

If you are a family member of an international civil servant and covered as such by the social security scheme established by the international organization, if you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland holding a European health insurance card or provisional replacement certificate, or if you are a citizen of Monaco, you are not concerned by the choice of referring doctor.

 

From the age of 16, you are required to choose and declare a referring doctor. Without a referring doctor, you will have your medical expenses reimbursed at a lower .

Choosing your referring doctor

You can choose a general practitioner or a specialist, whether they see patients in a private practice or in a hospital setting. We simply recommend that you choose the doctor who knows you the best. As your referring doctor is the first person you go to for any health issues, you will receive coordinated follow-up and personalized preventive care.

If you have not declared a referring doctor or visit a specialist directly (not including those with authorized direct access), your health insurance fund will reimburse you at a lower .

For more information, please refer to the article on the Coordinated healthcare pathway (“Parcours de soins coordonnés”).

Once you have chosen your referring doctor, you will need to inform your local health insurance fund (CPAM) about it.

Is it better to choose a referring doctor near your home or in the town where you are studying ? There is no hard and fast rule. Choose the solution that works best for you. If you get sick when you are out of town, you can see another doctor, who will specify this on your reimbursement claim and you will be reimbursed at the usual .

Declaring your referring doctor (“médecin traitant”)

Once you have chosen your referring doctor, you will need to inform your local health insurance fund (CPAM) about it.

The process can be completed online if the doctor you have chosen as your referring doctor offers to do so and you agree. Practically speaking, during an appointment at his/her practice, you can give the doctor your “carte Vitale” insurance card and the doctor will make the report online and submit it electronically to your local health insurance fund (CPAM).

Otherwise, you and the doctor can fill in and sign the “Declaring a referring doctor”form (form No. S3704, entitled “Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant”) together and submit it to your local health insurance fund, or send it by post.

To be noted

There is no need to make a special appointment with your doctor to declare him/her as your referring doctor. Rather, you can complete the process during your next appointment or the next time you stop by his/her office.

Youths under age 18 need the agreement and signature of an adult with parental rights.

You will need to submit a new declaration if you change referring doctor or if the doctor you have chosen get retired, changes profession, or moves.

If you are a family member of an international civil servant and covered as such by the social security scheme established by the international organization, if you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland holding a European health insurance card or provisional replacement certificate, or if you are a citizen of Monaco, you are not concerned by the choice of referring doctor.

If you were already enrolled in higher education in France for the 2017-2018 academic year and you are continuing your education in 2018-2019

You will be reimbursed for any health or maternity care expenses by the health insurance fund (CPAM) of your place of residence.

Your French health insurance card (“carte Vitale”)

Your “carte Vitale” is your health insurance card and is proof of your entitlement to health care coverage in France. Make sure to update it at least once a year, and any time your circumstances change, by using the terminals that are available at all of France’s local health insurance funds (CPAM), pharmacies, and certain health care facilities.

Always show it to any health care professional you see. When you use it, there is no need to file a reimbursement claim (“feuille de soins”) by mail: you will be reimbursed within 5 days.

If you have submitted an official banking information slip (RIB) to your local health insurance fund (CPAM), your reimbursement will be transferred to your bank account.

Your primary care physician (“médecin traitant”)

You will need to choose and declare a primary care physician (“médecin traitant”). From the age of 16, if you have not declared a primary care physician, you will be reimbursed at a lower .

Choosing your primary care physician

You can choose a general practitioner or a specialist, whether they see patients in a private practice or in a hospital setting. We simply recommend that you choose the doctor who knows you the best. As your primary care physician is the first person you go to for any health issues, you will receive coordinated follow-up and personalized preventive care.

If you have not declared a primary care physician or consult a specialist directly (not including those with authorized direct access), your health insurance fund will reimburse you at a lower .

For more information, please refer to the article on the coordinated healthcare pathway (“Parcours de soins coordonnés”).

Is it better to choose a primary care physician near your home or in the town where you are studying?

There is no hard and fast rule. Choose the solution that works best for you. If you get sick when you are out of town, you can see another doctor, who will specify this on your reimbursement claim and you will be reimbursed at the standard .

Declaring your primary care physician (“médecin traitant”)

Once you have chosen your primary care physician, you can authorize your doctor to submit your declaration online. Practically speaking, during an appointment at his/her practice, you can give the doctor your “carte Vitale” insurance card and the doctor will make the report online and submit it electronically to your local health insurance fund (CPAM).

Otherwise, you and the doctor can fill out and sign the “Declaring a primary care physician” form (form No. S3704, entitled “Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant”) together and submit it to your health insurance fund, or mail it in by standard mail.

There is no need to make a special appointment with your doctor to declare him/her as your primary care physician. Rather, you can complete the process during your next appointment or the next time you stop by his/her office.

Youths under age 18 need the agreement and signature of an adult with parental rights.

You will need to submit a new declaration if you change primary care physicians or if the doctor you have selected retires, changes professions, or moves.

You are not required to declare a primary care physician if: 

  • you are a family member of an international civil servant and covered as such by the social security scheme instituted by the international organization to which your family member belongs,
  • you are a citizen of another European Union or European Economic Area member State (EU/EEA) or Switzerland and have a European health insurance card (EHIC) or a provisional replacement certificate,
  • you are a citizen of Monaco.

If you have an industrial accident or occupational illness

As a student, you are insured for industrial accidents and occupational illnesses. This insurance covers accidents occurring :

  • during classes taught in a workshop or laboratory setting;
  • during company internships, assuming that these are part of your educational program and allow you to apply the course material, that an internship agreement has been signed, and that they are unpaid with the exception of an internship bonus.

Your supplementary coverage

You can top up your reimbursements from the French social security system by taking out the supplementary health insurance coverage of your choice. Contact your parents’ supplementary insurance provider (“mutuelle”), which may offer continued coverage for dependent adult children, a student provider (“mutuelle étudiante”), or another supplementary insurer, to bring your reimbursement rates up to the level you want: these vary depending on the contract you choose.

If you are on a low income, you may qualify to receive supplementary health insurance at no charge to you through the supplementary universal health care coverage program (“couverture maladie universelle complémentaire”/ CMU-C). Otherwise, if you pass the means test, you may be eligible for supplementary health care coverage affordability aid (“aide au paiement d’une complémentaire santé”/ ACS).

N.B.: if you belong to an international organization’s social security scheme as a family member of an international civil servant, are a citizen of another EU/EEA member State or Switzerland and have a European health insurance card or provisional replacement certificate, or are a citizen of Monaco, you are not eligible for CMU-C or ACS. If you take out private supplementary coverage, make sure it also works for people who are not members of the French social security system.

If you work while enrolled in higher education

If you work while enrolled in higher education, you will need to join the social security scheme that covers your profession by submitting any documentation of your employment such as your employment contract, a pay slip, etc.

You will also need to demonstrate legal residency in France.

If you are a work-study student (“étudiant en alternance”)

You will need to join France’s general scheme (or the MSA scheme if your work-study contract is in agriculture). This means that your social security coverage is the same as for salaried workers.

Your membership will entitle you to:

  • reimbursement of your health care expenses;
  • daily benefits if you are prescribed medical leave for an illness or go on maternity leave, as soon as you qualify for these benefits;
  • industrial accident coverage from your 1st day of work through the work-study program (“travail en alternance”).

If you have taken a gap year (“année de césure”)

In France, a “césure” or gap year is an optional period during which a student enrolled in an institute of higher education can temporarily suspend their enrollment in order to acquire personal experience, either on their own or by joining a host organization or educational facility in France or abroad.

A “césure” can be taken during a degree program or between two programs and can be one to two academic semesters long (a semester is an uninterrupted 6-month period that must begin at the same time as an academic semester).

During your “césure,” your social security membership will be determined by your circumstances.

  • If you enroll in a training program in a different subject area while continuing to reside in France without engaging in any paid employment, you will remain a member of your current scheme.
  • If you engage in salaried employment, you will need to join the scheme that covers your profession (either the general scheme or the agricultural scheme). To learn more, please refer to our article entitled “Vous êtes salarié” (“You are a salaried employee”) or to the MSA’s website.
  • If you engage in self-employment, you will need to join France’s general scheme: please refer to our section entitled “Vous occupez un emploi indépendant / non salarié”) (“You are self-employed”).
  • If you continue to reside in France and engage solely in volunteer work or otherwise do not engage in any employment, you will remain a member of your current Social Security scheme (except if you are over age 24, in which case you will need to join the general scheme). To learn more, please refer to our article entitled “Sans emploi : les modalités de votre prise en charge” (« Unemployment:your rules for coverage »).
  • If you go to another country, please refer to the articles that pertain to what you will be doing there (expat employment, higher education enrollment, etc.).
  • If you will be going abroad to participate in an international volunteer program, you will have social security coverage through the organization that is running your program (Business France, DGTrésor, or MEAE). Please refer to the website Civiweb, where you will find all the information you need. When you resume your school enrolment, you will need to notify your health insurance fund by filling out and submitting the form entitled “Application for membership in the French health care system” (form S1106) ("Demande d'ouverture de droits à l'assurance maladie") : in box B (“Applicant’s employment circumstances”), you will need to check “Other” and specify “Return from an International Volunteer program” along with the date you returned to France. You will also need to attach a certificate showing this information from the organization running your program.

If you complete or withdraw from higher education in 2019

You are out of school and it is time for your first job.

If you already belonged to France’s general scheme as a student and are about to begin salaried employment, no paperwork is required.

If you belonged to a scheme other than France’s general scheme and are about to begin employment that comes under the general scheme, you will need to submit the form entitled “Demande de mutation” (“Application to change schemes”) to the local health fund where you reside, along with a copy of your ID or residency permit (“titre de séjour”) and an official banking information slip (“relevé d’identité bancaire”/ RIB) showing your first and last names.

If you begin working as a farmer or farm employee, you will have social security coverage through France’s Agricultural Social Mutual Fund (“Mutualité Sociale Agricole”/ MSA).

If you start a business as a self-employed worker, you will need to report your new business to the business paperwork center (“centre de formalités des entreprises”/ CFE), which will gather together all of the documents in your enrollment application and then send them over to all of the organizations that need to be notified of your new business, including your health insurance fund.

If you do not yet have a job and are residing in France on a legal and ongoing basis, you will continue to belong to your current scheme until you reach age 24. You will then be covered by France’s general scheme, except if you work in an occupation that comes under another scheme. If you are a foreign student, your French social security coverage will continue for one year beyond the expiration of your residency permit (“titre de séjour”).

If you begin a job that comes under one of France’s special schemes (e.g. as a civil servant), you will need to submit the form entitled “Demande de mutation” (“Application to change schemes”) to your new health insurance fund, along with a copy of your ID or residency permit (“titre de séjour”) and an official banking information slip (“relevé d’identité bancaire”/ RIB) showing your first and last names.

Contact the local health insurance fund where you live

You will find the contact information for your local health insurance fund in our Contacts section.

You can also contact a French health insurance caseworker by phone at 36 46 (0.06 €/min charge + cost of the call). They are available Monday through Friday to answer your questions and help you through your paperwork.

Hold on to your French health insurance card (“carte Vitale”). You will need to update it every year, whenever your circumstances change, and any time an update is required by your health insurance fund.