If you are an expat in France, you may be able to benefit from the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary healthcare in the 27 EU states plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.
If you are from the UK, the new GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) will replace the EHIC once your current EHIC expires.
You will be reimbursed under the same conditions and at the same cost as people insured in that country.
A few years ago, when I was still living in London and registered with the NHS, I travelled for a long weekend to Berlin. Luckily enough, I had the EHIC that I previously ordered from the NHS website! I thought I wouldn’t need it, but it’s always better to be safe! Well, I’m happy I did, because I had a medical emergency and I had to rush to the hospital in Berlin. Everything was easy with my EHIC. I just had to present it, and I received medical care as anyone covered under the German healthcare scheme!
You might be wondering if the European Social Security coordination applies to you and how to get it. You will find below all the details and also how to get reimbursed if you need to pay upfront for medical treatments.
Who can use a European Health Insurance Card?
You are registered with the CPAM (French social security scheme)
If you are registered with the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie), meaning that you have been provided with a French Social Security number, you can apply for an EHIC.
The EHIC is linked to your Social Security number and not the actual Carte Vitale. So, if you have just registered to the CPAM and received your Social Security Number, but not the Carte Vitale yet, you can still request an EHIC.
You are a non-EU citizen with a French Social Security number
People from non-EU countries who are covered by a state social security scheme are also eligible for an EHIC. However, nationals from non-EU countries cannot use their EHIC for medical treatment in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
This means that as a third-country national, you can request an EHIC and be reimbursed under the same conditions as a national from the country where you are travelling. It will not apply if you are travelling to a country stated above.
You are not registered to CPAM
If you don’t have a French Social Security number, you cannot claim an EHIC from the CPAM. You can find information on how to register for the CPAM here.
However, if you are covered by another EU-state social security scheme, you can request an EHIC from this country’s National security insurance. This is the same way I did when I was working in the UK as a French national and travelling to Germany.
How to get a European Health Insurance Card?
You can easily request it online, but getting into your Ameli online account, under the section Mes démarches > Effectuer une démarche > Commander une Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie (CEAM).
You will receive it by postal mail within the following 2 weeks.
Under which circumstances can I use my European Health Insurance Card?
The use of your EHIC applies only for emergency medical care that you would be suffering during a trip to another EU or EEA country. However, it does not cover your costs if you are travelling to obtain medical treatment. For instance, if you are travelling to Hungary to get cheaper dental care, you will not be reimbursed by the Hungarian Social Security by using your EHIC.
In addition, the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. The EHIC doesn’t cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country.
Presenting your EHIC does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different, services are free in your country of residence might not be free in another country.
If you travel to another European country and you do not have an EHIC, you need to keep the medical bill and prescriptions. You will be able to request reimbursement to the CPAM once you get back.
The CPAM only accepts original documents. I strongly recommend you make good-quality copies or scans before sending the originals.
Can I use my European Health Insurance Card in France?
You can use your EHIC if you are not registered to the CPAM and have an EHIC from another EU country where you currently have the right to healthcare.
If you have just arrived in France and you still have health insurance rights open in your previous European country of residence, you can use your EHIC. However, when you relocate to another country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of habitual residence.
How can I get reimbursed?
Travelling with an EHIC provided by CPAM
If you are travelling to another European country with your French EHIC; then you should follow the reimbursement process of your country of destination when you are still there.
You will find the details per medical care type here.
If you haven’t been able to use your EHIC when requesting medical care abroad, you should submit the reimbursement request to the CPAM once back in France because you went to private practice or clinic.
Travelling with a foreign EHIC in France
You will need to submit your claims for reimbursement to the local CPAM office and provide:
- the medical receipt (feuille de soins) – make a prior copy for yourself
- copies of the prescriptions
- a copy of your European Health Insurance Card
- your home address
- your bank details, including the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) & Bank Identifier Code (BIC).
The confirmation of your reimbursement will be sent to your home address.
You will be reimbursed about 70% of the standard treatment cost (80% of hospital treatment). If you cannot submit the reimbursement request during your stay in France, contact your national health insurance provider when you get back home.
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