The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the old E111 in 2006. UK residents should make sure they have one before they come to France, in addition to travel insurance.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance – it will 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. Some insurers insist you have an EHIC and many will waive the usual excess in case of a claim if you have one. Therefore it is important to have both an EHIC and travel insurance.
An EHIC entitles you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free in France.
You will be treated on the same basis as a resident of France. Remember, each country’s health system is different so this might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. You may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care – seek reimbursement for this cost when you are back in the UK.
You can apply for a free EHIC here: EHIC online.
The EHIC is entirely free of charge. Beware unofficial websites that charge you if you apply through them!
If you’re having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0845 606 2030.
What to do if you need a doctor or hospital in France
It is important that you ensure you are treated by a state healthcare provider as you will not be covered if you go to a private practitioner. If you find yourself in need of emergency healthcare during your stay in France, dial 15 for the French healthcare service. Be prepared – the person answering may not speak English.
Before making an appointment with a doctor or dentist make sure that they are registered with the state (conventionné).
Doctors – GPs
You will be asked to pay the GP directly (currently 23€ for a consultation). The GP will fill out a treatment form (feuille de soins) and a prescription (ordonnance médicale) for you to get medication from a pharmacy if necessary. You need the treatment form and prescription to claim any refunds in the UK, so hang on to a copy of these. You should be able to claim back around 70% of the standard treatment costs under EHIC when you return to the UK – the balance has to be claimed from your insurer.
As with doctor, you must pay the dentist directly who will then fill out a treatment form (feuille de soins) and a prescription if necessary. The general procedure for claiming is the same as for doctors.
If you are admitted to hospital, make sure you present your EHIC on admission. This will save you from paying any refundable costs up front and ensure you only pay the patient contribution. Otherwise you could end up with a bill for several thousand euro if you need tests, to stay overnight etc. – if this happens then you can pay by credit card, but your EHIC should avoid this necessity.
Generally, you will only have to pay 20% towards your treatment, and sometimes it will be free. In-patients will have to pay a daily hospital charge of 16 Euros. If you are admitted to hospital and receive any major medical treatment, you will be charged a flat-rate contribution of €18 in addition to the daily hospital charge or the 20% co-payment. These charges are non-refundable in France but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK.
If you are admitted to a private hospital or clinic, try to ensure that it is also registered to provide state healthcare so that you will be reimbursed.
You should choose a pharmacy that is working within the French healthcare system – most do. With your prescription (ordonnance médicale), you should receive a treatment form (feuille de soins) – you cannot claim a refund without it.
You will have to pay for your prescribed products and claim the cost back. Reimbursement rates once you return to the UK vary between 15% and 100 % of the sale price.
In France, a doctor has to confirm that you are really in need of an ambulance service.
Ambulance charges are due if you are being admitted or discharged from hospital. This is non-refundable in France but you may be able to seek reimbursement when you are back in the UK.
How to claim refunds
ESSENTIAL – KEEP EVERY BIT OF PAPER YOU ARE GIVEN!
If you can deal with French bureaucracy, the quickest way to get your money back is to claim from the local CPAM office (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) in France. You will need to provide the treatment form, 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.
If you don’t fancy this or are unable to claim a refund during your stay in France, you should contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle) on your return to the UK on 0191 218 1999 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm).