Complementary health insurance

What is it and how does it work?

Updated August 2020    3-minutes read

Updated August 2020    3-min read

First of all, you should check out how the French Healthcare works before reading more about complementory health insurances. Understanding how health coverage works in France can be tricky so make sure you already got the basics. For more detailed information, you may download our documentation about health insurances in France 👍

  • Mandatory health insurance covers up to 70% of services for all typical health care needs, including general practitioners, hospitals, dentists, and pharmacy costs. Registration is mandatory if you stay more than 3 months on French soil.
  • Complementary health insurances cover the remaining 30%. Registration with a complementary health insurance is optional but strongly recommended if you staying more than 6 months.
  • Main private student complementary insurances are LMDE and SMEREP. Both are inexpensive (around €10-€15/month) but paperwork and customer support are in French only.
  • We recommend you to apply for CSS, a free complementary health insurance created by the State for those with little or no income.
Complementary health insurance

What complementary health insurance should I choose?

Mandatory and complementary health insurance, what's the difference?

France has a universal healthcare system. It’s managed by the Ministry of Health and supplemented by private insurers. Registration to the French health insurance is mandatory for all citizens and long-term visitors (>3 months). Once registered, you will be reimbursed up to 70% for most health-related expenses (doctor, hospital, medication…).

Not all expenses are covered though. If you want to be fully covered, you must purchase complementary health insurance (prices range from €14 to €30/month).

If you are a student, LMDE is probably the best value for your money. You may also apply for CSS, a free complementary health insurance run by the State, for those with little or no income.

LMDE, a private student complementary health insurance

Private insurers cover what is not included in the mandatory health insurance scheme. The most commonly used complementary insurance company is the LMDE. It offers a package at €14.60/month (€175.20/year) which includes:

  • Common care, 100% coverage of general and specialist consultations.
  • Pharmacy, 100% coverage of drugs reimbursed at 65% (by the Public Health Insurance).
  • Hospitalizations. Coverage of costs (including transport), without limitation of duration whatever the type of stay. Coverage of hospital daily allowances for working students.
  • Dental, 100% coverage of dental care.
  • A civil liability. Coverage of damages caused to others, in France and abroad.

With LMDE’s package you’re covered for all your day-to-day care, most medications and 100% of hospitalizations. It also includes a civil liability, which is a compulsory insurance in France.

We recommend it for two reasons: it is the only national complementary health insurance company for students and its flat rate of 14.60€/ month is an excellent value for your money. If you’re on a small budget, we suggest you check out CSS too 😊

CSS, what is it? How can I apply?

It is a free complementary health insurance scheme for those with little or no income. Your health expenses are therefore covered up to 100% of the official rates.

It also entitles you to the following benefits:

  • You do not need to pay upfront anymore (you usually pay and, then, get reimbursed).
  • If you are hospitalised, you will be reimbursed the daily flat rate (what you normally have to pay for accommodation and food).
  • You no longer need to pay medical deductibles (what you normally have to pay for certain medicines, paramedical procedures or medical transport).

To apply, you need to fill in this form and send it to your local CPAM office. Here again, paperwork is in French only: it can be tricky if you are not fluent and you might need to ask a friend or your school to help you out 😉.

You can also do it online on Ameli’s website.

Download our documentation

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