In France, it is mandatory to have a public or private health insurance covering all or part of your health expense. Depending on your status (student or employee), the steps to complete are not the same.
If you have a work contract, doctoral fellowship or other contract, you are automatically registered for Social Security. Your employer pays your contributions for you.
If you don’t have any work agreement and you are about to register to a French higher education institution, you need to register to the social security just after the administrative registration in your institution. It is free of charge. Go to the website of the social security dedicated to international students: https://etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr/#/. Read our page “Registering to social security” to discover the steps to complete and documents to provide depending on your situation.
If you don’t have a work agreement and are not registered in a French higher education institution, you must take a private health insurance at your charge.
Take out complementary health insurance to be reimbursed more.
On average, Social Security reimburses 70% of medical expenses. For better coverage, you can take out complementary health insurance, called a "mutuelle": it will entitle you to be reimbursed to up to 100% of your medical expenses.
For more information on healthcare in France, check the page Healthcare, Social Security and Complementary Health Insurance.