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Healthcare in France
France has a very comprehensive social security system (Sécurité Sociale). Although it is often complicated to navigate at first, it provides for excellent medical care and allows you to be reimbursed (or partially reimbursed) for most health related costs, as well as prescription medication.
Medical insurance is required for all students at Sciences Po during your stay in France.
France has a very comprehensive social security system (Sécurité Sociale). Although it may seem complicated to navigate at first, it ensures you can get excellent medical care and be reimbursed (or partially reimbursed) for most health-related costs and prescription medicines.
Health insurance is obligatory for all Sciences Po students while in France.
Social Security / Health Insurance
The mandatory French social security system will reimburse between 30% and 70% of your health expenses, depending on the category of doctor, treatment and medicines prescribed.
- Student insurance policies provide coverage from the end of August until August of the following year.* Students who start in January must pay for the same health insurance policy as other students. If you plan to stay through the end of the autumn semester, this means you must purchase a new policy for the second part of your stay in France, as the first policy will automatically expire at the end of August. In other words, in this situation the French social security system requires you to pay twice during a one-year stay.
- All students aged under 28 are required by French law to take out this mandatory student insurance. Students who are already 28 years old on the first day of the semester in September are ineligible for student insurance, and must look for and take out their own health insurance. For more information, dial 3646 from any French telephone, or visit the website www.ameli.fr.
Sciences Po students (except EU students who hold a European health insurance card) must be affiliated with the Sécurité Sociale system, and as part of their administrative registration must also choose a payment centre, LMDE or SMEREP, for the reimbursement of their healthcare costs.
Sciences Po students (except EU students who hold a European health insurance card) must be affiliated with the Sécurité Sociale system, and as part of their administrative registration must also choose one of the student health insurance funds, LMDE or SMEREP, for the reimbursement of their healthcare costs.
The two options are extremely similar and offer the same prices and services.
Complementary Health Insurance
Alongside the mandatory "Sécu" system, students have the option of taking out complementary health insurance from a private insurer, which will increase their total insurance coverage up to 100% of health expenses. This may be particularly worthwhile if you have ongoing treatment for a specific condition, or if you will be at Sciences Po for a longer period of time.
Both LMDE and SMEREP, the two French student health insurance funds, also offer complementary health insurance (mutuelle). Nonetheless, we recommend that you research the large range of options available in France for the specific type of complementary insurance plan that would suit you best. For more information, please check France's social security website: www.ameli.fr.
Note that the complementary insurance policies offered by LMDE and SMEREP take effect on 1 October and end on 30 September. You may find another mutuelle with coverage effective immediately, or that takes effect on the date you arrive in France.
- On the Paris campus, the Sciences Po Health Centre is open to students in need of advice, rest, psychological support or a general practitioner.
- On the regional campuses, healthcare professionals are available at regular times.
Finding a doctor
Finding a general practitioner (GP) in France isn't hard and we recommended you do so before falling ill. It's best to have options prepared, in case you get sick. The easiest thing to do is to go to any pharmacy in your neighborhood, or near Sciences Po if you prefer. Ask the pharmacist for a list of three or four doctors in the neighborhood.
Another useful step to take before you get sick is to download and print a copy of the application form to select your Médecin Traitant (PDF, 228 KB). Keep this form with the list of GPs in a safe place for when you need them.
You should see the same médecin traitant (GP) every time you need to see a doctor so you will be reimbursed the maximum amount. If you want to change your médecin traitant, you may do soat any time by following the same procedure. If your médecin traitant is unavailable, you will be referred to their médecin référant. You will still be reimbursed at the full rate in this case.
If and when you get sick, contact one of the doctors and ask them three questions:
- Are they available for an appointment the same day or the next day?
- Are they willing to become your médecin traitant?
- What do they charge per visit?
You can usually see a GP the same day or the next day. If you're extremely ill, GPs will often arrange to see you the same day even if their schedule is full. If not, try calling one of the other doctors, and in an emergency, please go directly to a hospital. For urgent cases, call one of the emergency phone numbers.
A médecin traitant is your primary care physician. For insurance purposes, it is very important that you choose a médecin traitant. If you have indicated your médecin traitant to your insurance provider, you can be reimbursed up to 70% of your medical expenses; if not, you'll only be reimbursed for up to 30% of these costs. If you purchase complementary health insurance (mutuelle), you can be reimbursed up to 100%.
Normal doctors’ visits in France cost €25 and specialist doctors, dentists, psychologists, gynecologists, etc. generally charge more than €25. GPs do have the right to charge more than this, but insurance companies may not reimburse the full amount for fees above the standard €25. For this reason, you will probably prefer to pay €25. Check what the doctor charges before you go for an appointment. At the appointment, the doctor should give you a receipt for payment (if not, ask for one), a prescription form if need be, and a brown form called a "feuille de soin". The doctor fills out part of this form and you fill out the rest before sending it to your health insurer for reimbursement.
For a complete scale of fees, detailing the level of reimbursement for each type of medical treatment/visit, please refer to the Sécurité Sociale website.
Prescription medication in France is generally inexpensive and there are pharmacies all over the city, identified by a very obvious flashing green sign in the shape of a cross.
When you purchase prescription medication from a pharmacist, they will also give you a brown form, called a "feuille de soin", which they will have partially filled out and you need to complete. Note that on the box of any medication is a small sticker (vignette) that you need to peel off and stick to the feuille de soin. As with the one from the doctor, this form is sent in to your health insurer for reimbursement.
Medical centres near the Paris campus
- Institut Arthur Vernes
36 rue Assas 75006
Ph. 01 44 39 53 00
(Social security-approved rates)
- Centre médical COSEM Saint Michel (Medical, radiology and dental centre)
3 rue Thénard
Ph. 01 53 73 03 03
(Social security-approved rates)
- Visit the Family Planning website (fr.)
- Anonymous, free screening center (sexually transmitted infections) (fr.)
CPOA (Centre Psychiatrique d'Orientation & d'Accueil)
The CPOA psychiatric support centre is a regional emergency health service that sees anyone in need of help at difficult times.
BAPU psychological support centres (“Bureaux d’aide psychologique universitaires”)
Students can visit these centres for support and advice from psychiatrists and psychologists. To access this service free of charge, you just need your student card and to be registered with the French social security system.
- BAPU Montparnasse
Ph. 01 43 31 31 32
- BAPU Luxembourg (Red Cross)
Ph. 01 43 29 65 72 (from 9am to 8pm)
- BAPU Bagnolet
Ph. 01 40 09 05 09
- BAPU Centre Claude-Bernard
Ph. 01 43 37 16 16
- BAPU Grange Batelière
Ph. 01 47 70 70 32
In an emergency
In an emergency, or if you can't reach a doctor after hours, you should of course go to hospital. Your health insurance policy should cover hospital visits; check the hospital website for details on reimbursement for emergency room visits.
- In the event of an emergency on the Paris campus, contact the Security Control Centre on 01 45 49 55 55 (24h/7)
- 112 is the number to call for emergency services throughout the European Union.
- 15 is for the SAMU (ambulance/paramedics service)
- 18 is for the nearest fire station, which also administers first aid
- 3624 for SOS médecin (12c/minute), for doctors who make house calls, 24/7, 365 days/year
- Find a duty chemist/night pharmacy