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About healthcare cover

Everyone living in France must have healthcare cover to cover them if they receive medical treatment (doctors, medication, hospitalization, etc.).

Depending on your situation, you may be covered by the French Social Security system or you may have to take out private insurance.
The Social Security only reimburses part of your healthcare costs, it is recommended that you also take out supplementary healthcare cover.

For more information about supplementary healthcare cover and private insurance.

Below, you will find information explaining the healthcare system in France.

Reimbursement of healthcare costs

Even if you are covered by the basic social security scheme, you must pay the entire fee at the end of the appointment when you see a doctor. If you do not yet have your Carte Vitale healthcare card, you will be given a treatment form (feuille de soins) that you must submit to your CPAM (local health service office) to be reimbursed.

Only part of your healthcare costs will be reimbursed by the French National Health Service. The reimbursement rate varies depending on the treatment received, around 60 to 70% of the fee approved by the French National Health Service, i.e. the price set by the health service for each type of treatment. Pharmacy costs are covered between 15 to 65% depending on the medication.

As you are only reimbursed for part of your costs, we strongly recommend that you take out supplementary healthcare cover (= mutuelle), especially if you have children or specific needs (glasses, dental care, dentures, etc.). This insurance policy supplements the reimbursement from the health service and avoids you having to pay high costs for more expensive treatment (hospitalization, dental care, etc.).

For more information about reimbursement by the French National Health Service.
More information about additional healthcare cover.

IMPORTANT - Please note:
  • In order to benefit from the maximum reimbursement rate provided by the health service, you must declare a primary care physician with the CPAM who will be your main doctor.
  • Warning: not all general practitioners charge the same fees. You will receive a better reimbursement rate from the CPAM if you select a sector 1 registered doctor. Please consult the health directory to find out about the fees charged by your doctor.

Appointments with a doctor

In France, everyone is free to select the doctor they want to see. General practitioners can be seen for any health problem. If you have a more specific health problem, you can see a specialist. However, the French care pathway specifies that the general practitioner must refer you to the specialist for your first appointment. Only dentists, ophthalmologists and gynecologists can be seen at your discretion.
In France, there are two types of practitioners (both general and specialist):
  • Registered doctors: these are doctors who have signed an agreement with the health service. This covers the majority of doctors. Individuals covered by the health service or by private health insurance which uses the fees set by the health service for reimbursement will benefit from a better reimbursement rate they visit this type of practitioner.
  • Non-registered doctors: These doctors have not signed an agreement with the health service. You will not, therefore, be reimbursed by this service. However, your supplementary healthcare or private insurance may cover these costs.
On the health service website AMELI, you will find a directory of doctors and specialists as well as the sector they are affiliated with to help you avoid any unpleasant surprises.

You can also search for doctors and specialists on the Doctolib website according to their area of expertise and the town where you live. You can also filter the results by language spoken. The sector of each healthcare professional is specified on their profile. You can also make an appointment online.

For more information about the role of the primary care physician and the coordinated care pathway.


In France, medication can only be sold in pharmacies. There are two different types of medication:
  • Over-the-counter medication: this medication sold in pharmacies does not require a medical prescription. Your pharmacist can advise you when purchasing this medication if you are ill or injured and you have not been able to see a doctor. This medication is not reimbursed by the health service. Their price may vary depending on the pharmacy.
  • Prescription medication: this medication can only be sold if the person can provide the pharmacist with a medical prescription issued by a doctor. This medication is reimbursed by the health service, but the reimbursement rate can vary.
SOS médecins Lyon can provide emergency home visits (a supplement is charged for the call out as well as for nights and weekends).

Phone number: +33 (0)

For more information:
In France, pharmacies are generally open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (opening hours depend on the pharmacy).
In France, there is a system of out-of-hours pharmacies if you have a medical emergency outside the opening hours of pharmacies as well as on public holidays. The cost of medication from an out-of-hours pharmacy may be higher.
For more information about out-of-hours pharmacies in Lyon. or out-of-hours pharmacies in Saint Etienne.

Hospitals and urgent medical care

The French hospital system comprises both public and private hospitals (clinics). Public hospitals and certain affiliated clinics have signed an agreement with the health service. Therefore, if you are hospitalized in a public hospital, you will receive a better reimbursement rate than if you are admitted to a private hospital.

Consult the list of public hospitals in Lyon
Consult the list of public hospitals in Saint-Étienne

Emergency departments in hospitals are very busy, if you need a general practitioner, outside the opening hours of their offices (evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays and public holidays), you can contact out-of-hours medical centers (Maisons médicales de garde).

Important: You must make an appointment by calling 116 117 or +33 (0)4 72 33 00 33 and visit the out-of-hours medical center indicated.
Les Maisons Médicales de Garde sur Lyon.
La Maison Médicale sur Saint Etienne.
SOS médecins Lyon can provide emergency home visits (a supplement is charged for the call out as well as for nights and weekends)

Phone number: +33 (0)

For more information :


In the event of an emergency: call 15 or 112
SAMU (ambulance and emergency medical services): 15
Emergency number: 112 (can be used throughout the European Union)


Mon "Espace santé" (Health Forum)

Mon espace santé is a new initiative of the French National Health Service and the Ministry of Health that gives people the opportunity to take control of their own health on a daily basis.
This new digital service will enable people to retain control over their health data, to store and share securely all documents and information they need to monitor their health with their healthcare professionals. Beyond medical records, this service will provide access to a health messaging service, and in the long them, to a medical diary, as well as a catalog of health services and applications listed by the public services.

For more information about "mon espace santé".
To activate your account on "mon espace santé".

Your healthcare cover in France

Depending on your situation, please check your healthcare cover options during your stay in France:Université de Lyon health campaign
The Université de Lyon has partnered with its institutions, the Crous de Lyon and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region to launch a portal containing all the information, procedures, services and contacts students need to better take care of their physical and mental health.
Link to the Université de Lyon’s health portal