For French people who spend a long time abroad, the question of international health insurance is crucial.
This choice often concerns future expatriates, because abroad, the functioning and price of health often differ greatly from the French model of Health Insurance.
To leave with peace of mind and avoid unpleasant surprises, you must ask yourself the right questions in order to make the right choice between existing options.
We present here the interest of an international health insurance, as well as the different possibilities available to French people abroad to cover their health.
What is international health insurance?
International health insurance is a contract designed to cover the insured in all his travels around the world. Such insurance can be seen as the duo health insurance + private mutual.
International health insurance: essential to be protected abroad
The generic expression “health insurance” refers to a device responsible for insuring an individual against many risks during a stay abroad. The risks in question are all those related to illness, accidents at work, disability, maternity, death, etc.
As part of a stay outside your country, taking out international health insurance allows you to benefit from the guarantees offered by private organizations.
This can be done on an individual or family basis, in addition to or in addition to the benefits of the Compulsory Health Insurance (in other words, Social Security).
Such a contract shall give access, at a minimum, to:
- Coverage of health costs (consultations, hospitalization, emergencies, etc.)
- Repatriation assistance (logistical and financial support for an early return to the country of residence in the event of an accident or illness occurring abroad)
- Civil liability in the event of human or material damage caused to a third party.
International health insurance is therefore a good way to avoid the often very serious financial consequences associated with damage caused far from home.
When should I take out international health insurance?
Overall, the answer is very simple: it is important to take out international health insurance when you go abroad.
Thus, the following reasons for stays are a good reason to cover your health abroad:
- Long-distance travel
- Professional mission
Note that each situation corresponds to an insurance and that companies very often offer specific contracts.
What are the most common health insurance solutions abroad?
There are many solutions to take care of your health abroad. There are, indeed, a multitude of offers and formulas of international insurance contracts on the market:
- Travel insurance
- Offers specially designed for certain destinations
- Expatriation, round-the-world insurance or WHV (Working Holiday Program)
- Short or long stay contracts
Home insurance or credit card insurance also offers international guarantees. However, the latter have guarantees and limited durations.
To be properly covered, it is therefore advisable to turn to an insurer specializing in international markets. There are two main types of global medical insurance:
- Totally private insurance
- The Caisse des Français de l’Étranger (CFE).
Any expat or traveler is completely free to choose the solution he prefers. Note, however, that some countries require a minimum level of guarantees or the purchase of a contract with an approved company before granting a residence permit.
These conditions are generally met by French international insurance companies, but it is still better to make sure before signing any contract.
1. International health insurance “at the first euro”: the preferred choice of French people abroad
The so-called “1st euro” insurance is offered by companies specializing in international insurance.
These contracts offer coverage of health costs from the first euro spent, independently of any other insurance scheme, even when the insured person is affiliated to the compulsory local scheme. This makes it possible to centralize the procedures and simplify the management of the contract, which is entirely in French.
It is thus possible to seek treatment without understanding all the specificities of the local health system and without a perfect command of the language of the country.
The companies that offer these insurances generally have partnerships with well-established local health networks.
In addition, these insurances are specially designed for expatriates. The offers are therefore governed by French law, which is very protective.
These insurances are often recommended for their flexibility and good value for money. These contracts come in a wide variety of formulas to adapt to all needs, all budgets and all lengths of stay.
However, the major disadvantage of these insurances is the constraint of the medical questionnaire.
In the event of medical “pre-existence”, i.e. already known chronic disease or prior major surgical operations, one of the following provisions may be applied:
- Refusal to insure
- Acceptance with exclusion of the possible consequences of medical pre-existence
- Full acceptance with an increase in contributions
- Unconditional acceptance.
2. The CFE, the “public” insurance for French expatriates
The CFE was created in 1978 to offer health insurance to French expatriates. It is a social security institution governed by private law, but entrusted with a public service mission.
The CFE has the following advantages:
- Health insurance for all expatriates: its membership is open to all, but is not mandatory for anyone. Its public service mission requires it to apply the same rules as the French Social Security. There is therefore no medical questionnaire at enrolment and no one can be refused a subscription because of medical history.
- The possibility of continuing to contribute voluntarily to retirement without losing a quarter during your stay abroad
- Maintaining an administrative link with the France: thus, upon your return, you can regain your affiliation to Social Security immediately. Without this, you must justify three months of stable residence on French territory to be able to benefit from this coverage again.
On the other hand, the major disadvantages of the CFE are the high amount of contributions and its limited refunds. Indeed, the latter are based on the scales of the Social Security. Thus, a consultation with a general practitioner has as a maximum reimbursement basis 25 €, regardless of the amount actually paid by the insured.
It is possible to take out supplementary insurance at the CFE. This makes it possible to supplement repayments, or even to benefit from extended guarantees.
Why take out international health insurance?
When traveling abroad, all it takes is a visit to the doctor, a visit to the emergency room, a prolonged hospitalization or a disaster accidentally caused to others for the dream to turn into a nightmare.
Overview of the different reasons to insure yourself during a stay abroad.