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How / where to purchase health insurance?

Live in the USA. Will be in France for several months. Anyone know how to purchase health insurance that is valid in France to cover the duration of my trip? Please note I do NOT want travel insurance, just health insurance. Thx

Posted by
5687 posts

What kind of health insurance do you have now? Sometimes your home insurance policy will cover you overseas. Last year I had a crappy high deductible US plan that, surprisingly, claimed to cover me overseas; they said I would have to submit receipts and they would reimburse me. But of course it varies by the provider.

Do you even need health insurance in France? I know you can't get cheap care like French residents can (because they pay taxes for their health care), but it may also not cost you much for care vs. going to an ER in the US. You'll surely have to pay something but it may not be that much. If you are on Facebook, look for a Paris Expats group or a French Expats group and ask on one of them. I am subscribed to a couple of those groups (not for France) and you can get answers from other expats who have been down that road already.

Posted by
9106 posts

but it may also not cost you much for care vs. going to an ER in the
US

While this may be true. Should you have a serious injury which would require you to be medivaced back to the US for further treatment/recuperation, it can cost over $100,000 and the French government will not pay for that. For this reason alone travel insurance is essential. I use this company for medical/evacuation coverage:
https://www.bhtp.com/

Posted by
8169 posts

it is generally required to have health insurance equivalent to the local coverage of citizens when getting an extended visa. I would inquire on ex-pat forums; surely there is insurance tailored to this need as there are lots of American ex pats living in France on extended visas.

Posted by
33128 posts

pj, at the risk of telling you basics that you will already know, if you are going for "several months", that sounds like more than the 90 days allowable under the Schengen rule. You have your visa all worked out? You know that to drive in France if you are North American you need an IDP in conjunction with your home license?

Good luck with your trip....

Posted by
2576 posts

You know that to drive in France if you are North American you need an IDP in conjunction with your home license?

If the OP obtains a visa pursuant to work within France, he/she may use her existing driver´s license for a period of up to 1 year at which time it would be necessary to obtain a French license.

IDPs are not require for those on visa´s extending stays beyond 90 days.

Posted by
33128 posts

What's the reference for that, Tocard, please.

Posted by
408 posts

Nigel, I can't speak for Tocard, but if you read this code, relative to those moving to France (installation) for other than a short duration visit: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1459, it states -- as one of three conditions allowing foreign license holders to drive in France for up to one year after entering France -- that the foreign license:

être rédigé en français ou, si nécessaire, être accompagné d'une traduction officielle en français, légalisée ou apostillée si elle est effectuée à l'étranger ou, si elle est réalisée en France, effectuée par un traducteur habilité.

In short, you are legally required to have a translation of your foreign license.

In more detail, if you obtain the translation before moving to France it should be apostilled (carrying a signed certificate of authenticity issued by a competent authority representing a federal or state government that is a party to the relevant international convention). If you obtain it after moving to France it should have been prepared by a government-authorized translator.

There is no reference to an IDP (or, in French, un permis international). The IDP, however, is mentioned as an alternative to an official French translation under the tab for short-duration visits (court séjour). So, rather than say that an IDP is not required for a long-term residence permit, it might be more accurate to state that an IDP is irrelevant and not useful to those staying in France for the first year of their residence.

Also -- Tocard -- my understanding is that the ability to legally drive for one year with a non-European license extends to anyone with a valid residence permit, not just those who moved to France for work. If you read the code linked above, there's no mention of a work visa.

To the original poster -- one resource for medical insurance for people living in France (or elsewhere) until they are covered under the local healthcare system is provided by the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO). Here is a link to their web page on insurance products: https://aaro.org/health-insurance.

Posted by
9 posts

thanks nigel for the Northamerican correct word to describe a nation.it would be significant geographically important that everyone use it both in writting and speaking.

Posted by
3198 posts

A friend with whom I’ll be traveling with this September just sent me this link from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.. It is for international health insurance ONLY, no travel coverage. It seems to be very affordable and is for a 1 year policy period. I compared it to some other recommended policies and I think it’s a pretty good deal. I was unaware that the Blues offered this.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks all for your replies!

Philip: The Blue Cross option is exactly what I was looking for. Many thanks! I had bought travel medical insurance once before, but I couldn't recall from whom. I only remembered that I paid about $40 per month. Blue Cross is quoting $25 to $45 per month, depending on plan. Amazingly, other companies are quoting $125 per month (and more), and only for medical evacuation coverage. Ouch!

Posted by
408 posts

pj1564,

Without looking into the details but judging by the price, I would be cautious about the policy noted above by Philip. If your objective is to have a bit of coverage to give you peace of mind, then you might do fine with that.

If, on the other hand, your objective is to demonstrate to French authorities that you possess health insurance that is minimally equivalent to that provided by the French health care system (a standard requirement for immigrants who will not initially be covered under the French system), then I would be quite certain that a policy at that price would fall into the "too good to be true" category and would come up far short. It's just too inexpensive.

To place it in context, it's less expensive even than French mutuelle products offered to residents of France ("mutuelle" is supplemental insurance to cover the cost of things the already generous French health care system doesn't cover).

I don't think it's possible for a company to offer health insurance that is generally comparable to French health care coverage at that price. To obtain that, you would probably be paying more along the lines of what AARO offers (see the link I previously provided).

However, as noted above, if you're only interested in obtaining some minimal amount of insurance coverage rather than trying to satisfy a requirement of your extended stay residence permit, then you might be OK with such an inexpensive insurance product.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Bob. I did contact AARO. They said ]their insurance is available only for periods of 6 months or more. I only need 2-3 months of coverage at most.

Posted by
408 posts

Ah. I mistakenly understood your stay would be longer (springing from the "several months" statement in your original question). For such a short stay as 2 to 3 months, you would neither need to match French health care coverage with private insurance, nor would it make much sense. Sorry for the irrelevant comments.

Have a good stay.

Posted by
10297 posts

Useful nonetheless, Bob, as your comments certainly helped someone, somewhere who may be coming over for 6+ months.