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Healthcare issues in Languedoc, France
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Healthcare in Languedoc, France


Healthcare in LanguedocHealthcare in France

Everyone raves about France’s healthcare system (and it’s true that compared to the UK’s National Health Service, it’s a dream), but they forget to tell you that it’s funded by costly contributions.


The majority of your medical cover is financed by the social security system, with which you are obliged to register if you live in France (which collection fund or caisse you actually join depends on how you earn your living).


The one thing you’ll want to get hold of, as soon as you arrive in France, is a Carte Vitale. Issued by your Caisse d’Assurance Maladie, this green plastic credit card lookalike contains your social security details. You will be asked for it in hospitals, pharmacies, doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, where the card is swiped. In some cases (e.g. at the pharmacy) you will not be charged; in others, you will be asked to pay up front and then claim back your reimbursement.


In most cases (maternity care is an exception), treatment is not fully funded (around 70% is the norm). The shortfall is down to you – which is why so many people take out an insurance policy (known as assurance maladie complémentaire, or a mutuelle).


Healthcare: what you need to know

Be prepared to pay a substantial sum each year in obligatory social security contributions.


Be prepared to get your cheque book out each time you go to the doctor (many operate a “pay now, claim back later” method, which can take you back a little if you’ve been used to the UK way of doing things).


France has a set governmental tariff of charges for medical treatment – but health practitioners are not obliged to stick to this. To avoid extra costs, check whether your chosen doctor, dentist or specialist is conventionné (if they aren’t, you’ll be paying extra).


French doctors have a tendency to over-prescribe – it’s quite common to walk out of the pharmacy with a large carrier bag of medicines (you can of course decline any you don’t want).


France is the land of specialists. Unlike the UK, where most folk consult their general practitioner for everything except more complex cases, France is heaving with paediatricians, gynecologists, and all manner of muscle-manipulators and massage therapists (take your pick from kinés, ostéopathes, médecins de sport).


For information on healthcare and retirement issues for older folk, see the Retiring to Languedoc chapter.





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