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How the French healthcare system operates


Introduction - Who to ask in case of a health issue?


Consulting a general practitioner


You can find the contact details of health professionals on the national health insurance online directory:
annuairesante.ameli.fr

You can find contact details of doctors you can visit outside the regular opening hours, and of emergency services, in the section ‘Emergency telephone numbers’.


Declaring a referent doctor (‘médecin traitant’)


You are covered by the french health insurance (social security) : remember to declare a referent doctor.
Your referent doctor will be entrusted with your overall care, and will advise and direct you to a specialist if needed.
By visiting your referent doctor, or a specialist he/she directed you to, then you are following what is called the 'parcours de soins coordonnés', and you will be better reimbursed.

Choosing a referent doctor
The referent doctor usually is a general practitioner, but can also be a specialist.
To find and choose a referent doctor, you can use the national health insurance online directory: annuairesante.ameli.fr.
As a student in Grenoble, you can choose the Students health center ('Centre de santé universitaire') as your referent doctor.
As a student in Valence, you can choose the Centre Santé Jeunes as your referent doctor.

Declaring a referent doctor
The form to use is the form S3704, 'Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant'. You can download it on ameli.fr, or you can ask your doctor directly.
It must be completed with the doctor, and signed both by the doctor and yourself.
It must then be sent off to your health insurance.


Consulting a specialist


Your referent doctor will direct you towards a specialist if needed (dermatologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, psychiatrist, etc).
You will be better reimbursed if you follow your referent doctor advice, than taking the initiative to make an appointment by yourself.
However, some specialists can be consulted without you passing through your referent doctor (and without the reimbursement rate being reduced): this is the case for gynaecologists, ophthalmologists, and dentists.

Consulting a psychologist or a psychiatrist
Do not hesitate to talk to your referent doctor, who can recommend you a psychologist or a psychiatrist depending on your situation and your needs.
Student or PhD student of the Université Grenoble Alpes, note that you can consult with no cost :
-at the Students health center, on the St Martin d’Hères campus
-at the ‘Point Relais Oxygène’ of the Youth health centre in Valence
-at the ‘Service médico-psychologique universitaire (SMPU)’ in St Martin d’Hères
-at a Crous student residence in Grenoble or by video consultation in Valence with Apsytude, partner of the Crous Grenoble Alpes
Student, PhD student, or researcher, if you are having difficulties finding a psychologist, you can ask the association ‘les Psys du Cœur’.



Purchasing medicines


In France, medicines are sold in pharmacies only.
Some medicines require a doctor's prescription to be obtained and reimbursed.
Common medicines (paracetamol, aspirin, etc.), on free sale and without prescription, are not reimbursed by the health inusrance.

Outside the pharmacies regular opening hours, some on-call or on duty pharmacies stay open (at night, on Sundays and on bank holidays).
You can find their contact details posted at the pharmacy’s entrance doors, or online on the website servigardes.fr.

Medical expenses reimbursements


Your medical expenses can be reimbursed in part by social security, and then by your complementary health insurance / ‘mutuelle’ if you have one.
To make sure that your reimbursement claims are well transmitted by social security to your complementary health insurance provider, remember to give your complementary health insurance provider a social security certificate ‘attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie’.

Good to know
You are covered by the french health insurance (social security) ?
Remember to declare a referent doctor : you will be better reimbursed.

  • You have a European Health Insurance Card
In order to claim for medical expenses reimbursements in France, you can send the following documents to your local CPAM International relations office (‘CPAM - Service des relations internationales’):
-Copy of your European Health Insurance Card (both sides)
-The ‘feuille de soins’ that the doctor will have given you, completed and signed
-The prescription
-Your ‘RIB’ (relevé d’identité bancaire)
-A letter asking for the reimbursement
 
  • You are covered by the french health insurance (social security), but do not have a ‘carte Vitale’ yet
You need to claim for the reimbursement of your medical expenses by post, to your health insurance organization (CPAM or MGEN), and by sending the following documents :
-A copy of your social security certificate ‘attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie’
-The ‘feuille de soins’ that the doctor will have given you, completed and signed
-The prescription
-Your ‘RIB’ (relevé d’identité bancaire) if you haven’t provided it yet.
 
  • You have a ‘carte Vitale’
Show your medical card ‘carte Vitale’ to the doctor at the time of the consultation, or at the pharmacy.
All the information needed for the reimbursement of your medical expenses will be transferred to your health insurance organization, and you will automatically receive the reimbursement onto your bank account.


Asking for the medical card ‘carte Vitale’


The ‘carte Vitale’ is not mandatory, but it facilitates the reimbursement of your medical expenses.
By showing your ‘carte Vitale’ to the doctor, you will be reimbursed without having to send off paper forms to claim for reimbursement.

How to obtain it?
Once you have completed your registration with the french health insurance, and have got your definitive social security number, you can ask for your ‘carte Vitale’ :You will need to provide an ID photo and a proof of identity.

Updated on May 4, 2020

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