QUESTIONS about the health system are most probably high on anyone’s list when they start a fresh in France.
Whether you are retiring to savour the French life or moving over with your family making sure that all the paperwork is correct is very important.
And it is with this in mind that the Perigueux-based Francheville Polyclinic is to host a free seminar that will provide an introduction to the health service and help answer people’s questions.
The seminar takes place on September 14, 2006 at the Salle Polyvalente, La Tour Blanche, Dordogne, starting at 5pm (location map).
Other topics the seminar will cover include how reimbursement of medical fees work, how recent reforms changed the way you choose a doctor, as well as everyday examples including the steps a family needs to go through, or if you work in the UK and live for a few days a week in France.
Staff at the Francheville Polyclinic have also provided a list of helpful tips offering advice on how the French health system works:
Always keep your Vitale Card up to date
The Vitale Card is your health ID card. It contains all the necessary administrative information for you to be reimbursed for your health expenses. It is read by all health professionals, and avoids the need to send health details and advance money to the health insurance system for your health expenses.
Choose carefully your Primary Care Physician (PCP)
This is the doctor you will always consult first and who will coordinate your medical care. Beyond their medical skills, the quality of their relationship with you is important, so ensure you know each other well. Don’t hesitate to choose a specialist as your PCP if you consider them as more suitable or if you have known them for a long time. Also don’t hesitate to change your PCP if you think it is necessary.
Choose your complementary health insurance carefully
As the proportion of health insurance expenses that is not refunded grows, it is important to choose your complementary health insurance very carefully. There is no one definitely better than the others. Above all, it has to match your needs. For example, if you have frequent dental problems, make sure that your complementary cover correctly refunds dental care. Or if your wife is pregnant and does not have a complementary health insurance, make sure that she is correctly covered by your own insurance.
Don’t forget to record your complementary health insurance on your Vitale Card
If you record your complementary health insurance on your Vitale Card, you will no longer have to send your health insurance refund summary sheets to your complementary health insurance. All the information concerning your care and drug expenses will be directly transferred to your complementary health insurance which will reimburse you directly.
Check that the hospital or clinic where you will be admitted is under convention
To be reimbursed, the establishment where you will be admitted must be under convention with all the social organisations and the major insurance companies. If there is a doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for confirmation from the establishment or your local social security centre.
Find out which medical sector the specialist you plan to consult is affiliated to
If you plan a medical consultation with a specialist working in the private sector, find out if he is affiliated to Sector 1 or Sector 2. If he is in Sector 2, he is free to choose his tariffs and you better check with your complementary health insurance to what extent your expenses are covered.
Find out which hospitals or clinics are referenced by the major English private medical insurances
If you have subscribed to one of the English private medical insurances, check with them which French hospitals or clinics they have reference of. BUPA and AXA PPP have recognised more than 25 French establishments and this may enable you to be 100% reimbursed if you use one of these establishments.
Respect the French health system
The French health system is generous and effective but it faces big financial problems so this is why it should be treated responsibly and people should avoid waste and misuse.
Always keep with you…
Your Vitale card, your complementary insurance company card and your blood group card: these three will make any admission easier especially in case of emergency.
Francheville Polyclinic is a private hospital with over 100 beds, as well as four intensive care beds, and is undertaking a project to offer care and health services to English-speaking patients.
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Top-up insurance is normally not required for maternity care as it is covered 100% by the obligatory insurance.
In practice, this meant that we were refunded for all costs except for the additional charge for a single room. All care was via a private clinic too.
One thing to watch is if your wife is pregnant before you move to France. Their first reaction here was that we had no cover but in fact you will be covered by whatever French insurance you sign up for thanks to a European agreement covering such situations, so long as you are here 42 days before the baby is due to be born.
Posted by: Arnold | 06 September 2006 at 11:26