For doctor and dentist visits, buying medication from the pharmacy and hospital out-patient treatment, unless you are in the possession of a French “Carte Vitale” you must pay for treatment upfront and then claim a partial refund from the local health insurance office in France or if applicable a full reimbursement through your travel health insurance.
Note: Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.
You should always carry with you your EHIC card or insurance documents and present them at the time of the appointment or visit. This will ensure that the doctor gives you the correct forms so that you can reclaim the money spent - the feuille de soins. This form is necessary to claim any refunds in France. You can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
The majority of doctors, dentists, pharmacies and hospitals will take credit cards for payment but in smaller towns or resorts there is a chance that the service is cash only so you should be aware of this.
Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.
If you are admitted to hospital, you should present your EHIC (or ‘carte vitale’) on admission. This will ensure you only pay the patient contribution for state healthcare, around 20%.
If you need to collect medication from a pharmacy you need to present the 'feuille de soins' along with the doctor’s prescription. The price of the medicine will be printed on the feuille de soins that the chemist will return to you with your prescription. You pay the chemist directly. The stickers (vignettes) on the medicine packaging must be removed and stuck on the feuille de soins in the space provided – you cannot claim a refund without it.
Note: Not all medications can be reimbursed and rates vary between 15% and 100% of the sale price.
Claiming your reimbursement
If you have an EHIC - then claims are made at the local CPAM office (Caisse Primaire D‘Assurance Maladie) in France. You will need to provide the treatment form (feuille de soins) with stickers from the medicine packaging, copies of receipts and prescriptions, a copy of your EHIC, your address of residence and your bank details, (including IBAN and BIC). Confirmation of your refund will be sent to your home address.
The EHIC replaced the old E111 in 2006. The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK or lost or stolen property. It is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
If you do not have your EHIC and need to pay the entire cost then keep all your paperwork and receipts and make a claim with your private insurance company.