France's health-care system
France offers medical and health services for students, including preventive and wellness services.
The national student health-care plan ("Sécurité sociale") and supplemental group plans ("Mutuelle")
French health-care coverage, provided under the social security system ("Sécurité sociale"), is of very high quality. Covered individuals are reimbursed for a portion of their medical expenses in return for a low basic payment. For students, that payment reaches €211 in 2013/2014 (1). You join the plan at your higher education institution when you register for classes at the beginning of the academic year. Participation in the plan is mandatory for non-European students.
Students from countries in the European Economic Space are exempted from participation as long as they hold either a European health insurance card (or temporary certificate) valid for the entire academic year or a certificate of private insurance providing full coverage for medical risks without restrictions related to cost.
The social security system reimburses about 60% of expenses related to an illness, on average. Operating alongside this mandatory national system, student supplemental group health plans - "Mutuelle" - (with annual premiums starting at €110) allow students to obtain coverage for all or part of the expenses not covered by the basic national plan, thus reaching full refund for health-related expenses.
The two main student group health plans are:
- LMDE (La Mutuelle des Étudiants)
- emVia, which groups 11 regional student "mutuelles"
To benefit from the national student health-care system, students must be under 28 years of age and registered in a program for at least 4 months in an approved institution of higher education.
Beginning on the date when the above conditions are no longer met (i.e., when a student reaches the age of 28 or completes his or her educational program and has not yet begun a first job), students may benefit from an extension of their health care and pregnancy cover, for a maximum of 4 years. The extension request must be submitted to the office of the health insurance fund (CPAM, "Caisse primaire d'assurance maladie") with jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence.
All the other students (2) (those enrolled in programs shorter than 4 months and students enrolled in a non-participating higher education institution) must seek medical insurance from a private insurance company. Annual premiums for such coverage in France range from €150 to €550.
Students over 28 may benefit under certain conditions from the system of universal medical coverage (CMU, "Couverture Médicale Universelle"), for which they must pay a special annual premium.
(1): students benefitting from a French governmental scholarship don't have to pay for their student health care coverage
(2): except students benefitting from a schorlarship who are managed by Campus France: in most case, their cover is paid by Campus France