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Children’s healthcare in France

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

We cover all you need to know about children's healthcare in France, from paediatrics and dental care to mental health and more, including how they are treated there.

If you are an expat relocating to France with young children, you may take comfort in the fact that the country's healthcare system is universally accessible and free of charge. Having said that, it is likely that you will still be interested in learning the particulars and what to anticipate about gaining access to children's healthcare in France.

Cigna Global

Over 86 million clients in over 200 countries have full health coverage via Cigna Global, which is provided by the company. They assist expatriates in customising a plan to meet their unique requirements for medical care and have extensive access to reputable medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians.

COVID-19 in France

Everyone has had a rough time during this period of the COVID-19 epidemic. A significant number of people who go abroad find themselves cut off from their friends and loved ones back in their native country. As a foreigner, it might be difficult at times to discover essential information on the prevalence of coronavirus infection, local measures and limits, and now, luckily, vaccines. Vaccinations are now available.

Visit the official Coronavirus (COVID-19) website to get information on the overall coronavirus situation in France, including vaccination regimens and the most recent restrictions.

Consult our guide on the COVID-19 pandemic in France if you would need information specifically about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts France.

Children’s healthcare in France

In line with the majority of the rest of Europe, the general health of children in France is of typically excellent quality. The health status of 95% of children in France is either excellent or very good, while the percentage of children in poor or very poor health is just 0.6%, which is lower than the EU average of 0.8%. However, statistics from the OECD show that young people in this country, although having a low obesity rate, tend to smoke more and exercise less than young people in other OECD nations, giving them an overall health grade that is pretty ordinary.

The French healthcare system may be thought of as an interconnected web of hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, both public and private. In addition, if you live in France and have a carte vitale, the French national health insurance card, you have access to healthcare that is either completely free or heavily subsidised. Notably, if you are not a French citizen but have been living in France for more than three months, you are eligible for protection under France's universal health insurance programme, known as Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). If you have a change in work, family, or residence status, your healthcare bills will be covered by this national healthcare protection plan. In addition, individuals with a low income may be eligible for assistance with additional medical costs via the Complémentaire Santé Solidarité scheme.

The majority of the time, children up to the age of 18 are automatically covered by the health insurance of their parents. Once adolescents reach the age of 16, however, they can submit a request for their insurance card or PUMA. You have the option of registering your kid with a paediatrician or a general practitioner (often known as a GP). On the other hand, it is important to point out that children do not have to make the copayment or pay the flat fee that is often required for adult healthcare.

Dedicated paediatric health centres

France is home to several specialised medical facilities for children, such as CMI, EPSM, and CMSEA. However, they should not be your initial point of contact; rather, your child's doctor or general practitioner should suggest them to you. Local centres known as PMI (Protection Maternelle et Infantile) provide extra medical and social assistance to expectant mothers and children up to the age of six. These facilities are located all across the country. Pediatricians, midwives, and/or gynaecologists are often available on-site at these facilities; however, the services they provide and the available medical professionals might vary substantially from one location to the next.

How to access healthcare for your children

General healthcare expenditures made up 12.4% of France's GDP in 2020, making it one of the highest percentages in all of Europe. Through the health insurance policy maintained by their parents, all children, irrespective of nationality, are eligible to receive free medical treatment. Short-term hospitalisation is covered by the state insurance programme for 80%, and any extra private health insurance plans (which are referred to as Mutuelle) cover the other 20%. On the other hand, the state pays for 100% of the patient's medical expenses during hospital stays that are longer than one month.

There is a wide variety of mutuelles from which to choose, and some of them are tailored to the needs of a certain demographic of the population, such as school personnel, medical professionals, or public servants. Some plans provide superior protection against certain types of medical costs, such as those associated with corrective lenses or dentures.

Find the best expat health insurance quotes in France

Les Furets and Devis Mutuelle are two websites that allow you to evaluate different health insurance carriers and pick a plan that is tailored to your specific requirements. You might also visit the page on our website that provides health insurance rates for expats. The official website for the state health insurance programme, Ameli, includes both a part in English and advice phone lines specifically for those who understand English.

The French government provides free medical treatment for children.

Through your place of employment in France, you have the opportunity to sign up for subsidised medical care, and this coverage extends to your family as well. On the other hand, if you are self-employed, you are required to get in touch with the Regime Social des Indépendants (RSI). If you believe that you are eligible for PUMA, you may also get in touch with the office of your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie).

The French public health insurance card (Carte Vitale)

You will have access to free healthcare via the state social security system in France unless you are in the country illegally or for less than three months (i.e., public health insurance). Even if you do not have a job in the nation, you are required to comply with this regulation. On the other hand, if you are a non-European resident of the nation, you are required to have certain papers, such as a long-stay visa and a residency permit, which demonstrate that you are permitted to be in the country. After that, all that is required of you to enrol in the Sécu health insurance system is to fill out an application.

To complete your application for the Carte Vitale, you will be required to provide copies of the following documents:

Your national identification card or passport is required.

Documentation proving residency in France

Documentation proving your place of residence, such as a recent utility bill in French

Certificates of marriage or birth, if you need to add family members in the application.

Evidence of income, if relevant

A Declaration de Médecin It is dishonourable to register with a general practitioner in the neighbourhood.

Notably, this procedure is the same for children of ex-pats living in France, provided that their parents can provide evidence that they are authorised to be in France.

After you have completed this procedure, you will be issued a Carte Vitale, which is the French term for a public health insurance card, and it will cover not only you but also your children. It will be scanned at any pharmacy, clinic, or hospital that you visit to provide you with access to free or reduced-cost medical treatment. This indicates that it covers almost every kind of medical care, including visits to experts.

Your consultation or purchase will be logged and the information will be sent immediately to your state and private insurance if the practitioner is a registered healthcare professional and they scan your card. It is crucial to remember that social security may not cover alternative therapies like naturopathy, sophrology, or reflexology, but your mutuelle may pay at least some of the costs associated with these treatments in whole or in part.

Private healthcare for children in France

Thankfully, the national health insurance system in France covers almost all of the medical expenses incurred by children. However, if you decide to enrol in supplemental healthcare via Mutual, it will cover not just you but also your dependent children. It is important to note that independent medical professionals in France still make their services available via the country's public healthcare system; however, they often charge higher rates for their work. In actuality, this signifies that the medical system divides physicians into three categories: Sector 1, Sector 2, and Sector 3.

Healthcare providers located in sectors 1, 2, and 3

The cost of a consultation with a Sector 1 physician is predetermined if the physician opts to work within the budgetary constraints of the state insurance. The patient's private insurance, known as Mutelle, is responsible for covering the remaining 30% of the charge after it has been reimbursed by the state's social security programme for 70%. Only the most vulnerable members of society are eligible to get full coverage under the public health insurance programme offered by the state.

However, physicians in Sectors 2 and 3 are free to choose their rates, with Sector 3 doctors charging the highest rates since they are not bound by any arrangement with the government. As a result of this, the state security programme (also known as public health insurance) only reimburses a very little amount.

Because a significant number of private physicians and specialists get money via the state insurance programme, it is expected that they will continue to perform their services within the context of the public healthcare system. In a similar vein, patients with public insurance are welcome in the majority of privately operated hospitals. However, the prices of services provided by a private company would be greater. Therefore, even if the proportion of costs that are covered by your state health insurance will remain the same, you will be required to make a higher copayment for the portion of the bill that is not covered. he

Having said that, if experts in Sector 1 are in great demand, you could consider going private (in Sectors 2 or 3) or accessing alternative treatments that the state does not pay for. In general, healthcare services located in Sectors 2 and 3 provide shorter wait times but demand higher prices. Because of this, it is a good idea to get supplemental Mutuelle insurance so that a portion of these extra expenditures may be covered.

Private health insurance providers

The following are examples of some of the most important private health insurance carriers in France that provide additional coverage:

● Allianz Care

● April International

● Cigna Global

● Globality Health


Taking your child to the paediatrician

Although doctors in France specialise in the medical treatment of children, there is a severe scarcity of them; there is only one physician for every 5,300 children. As a direct consequence of this, the waiting list for appointments may be rather lengthy. Therefore, you should make an appointment for your kid as soon as possible with a general practitioner or paediatrician in your area.

Despite this shortfall, 60% of children under the age of two are now enrolled in the care of a doctor. However, in metropolitan areas, general practitioners (GPs) see 85% of the medical visits include children, rather than paediatricians. This is especially true for youngsters who are a little bit older. From birth up to the age of six, fortunately, the neighbourhood PMI centre can monitor your child's growth and carry out regular medical examinations for them.

Typical medical checks

There is no upper age restriction for when a paediatrician may observe your child's medical development, so they can do so from birth until late adolescence. They often work in independent clinics with a small number of other doctors and a medical assistant who is in charge of the practice's administrative tasks.

Additionally, paediatricians are responsible for the following responsibilities:

Regular check-ups

Observe your child's progress as they grow and develop.

Vaccine administration, as well as prescription writing.

Guide a broad variety of issues, ranging from nursing to sleep habits to temper tantrums.

It is essential to know that even though it may be difficult to secure an appointment, doctors keep daily spaces available for issues that need immediate attention.

Finding a GP or paediatrician

It is in your best interest to inquire about GP recommendations from other parents at the nursery or school where your kid attends. It is important to note that certain general practitioners welcome young patients, while others focus more on treating adults. It is important to keep in mind that the cost of a consultation with a general practitioner (GP) is predetermined at €25, however, appointments with specialists (including paediatrics) might cost up to twice as much upfront. However, the national health insurance programme only reimburses a portion of that amount, which implies that the additional private insurance you have should pay the majority of the difference.

You may search for general practitioners and specialists in your area using the Doctolib website, and then arrange an appointment with one of them either online or over the phone.

Routine childhood health checkups in France

Every kid in France is required to get 20 preventative medical examinations paid for in full by the government between the ages of birth and sixteen. Some of them are carried out by the child's general practitioner or paediatrician, while others (such as hearing and language examinations) are carried out at the child's nursery school or elementary school by local professionals who are tasked with making the rounds. In the second scenario, the school will provide the findings in a sealed envelope and the parents will be required to sign a permission document.

During the first year of your baby's life, he or she will have appointments scheduled every month. In addition, up to the age of three, kids will get regular checkups about once every six months. After that, the child will have three further medical examinations when they are around the ages of four, five, and eight, as well as one when they are in their early adolescence (11 to 13), and a final one when they are between the ages of 15 and 16.

Because it deals with delicate topics like menstruation discomfort, acne, and depression, this final examination is often performed, at least in part, in private, away from the presence of the student's parents. In addition, the doctor will document each checkup as well as each stage of the patient's growth in a unique booklet that will be referred to as the carnet de santé.

List of routine checkups

● Growth curve

● Psychomotricity

● Emotional development

● Early detection of genetic anomalies or deficiencies

● Vaccinations

● Promoting healthy behaviours and activities

● Eyesight and hearing

● Language and learning issues

Vaccinations for children in France

Children who were born before 2018 are required to get a DPT vaccination (protection against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus) to attend school in France. This is an important requirement.

Children who were born on or after January 1, 2018, are required to get a series of immunizations to protect them against 11 different illnesses, which are as follows:

● Diphtheria

● Tetanus

● Polio

● Whooping cough

● Hemophilus influenzae type B

● Hepatitis B

● Meningococcus C

● Pneumococcus

● Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)

It is important to note that further vaccinations, such as those for hepatitis A and tuberculosis (TB), are not required. On the other hand, it is strongly suggested for children who were born in, will be going to, or whose parents are from nations with high TB prevalence rates. Vaccines against chickenpox and the flu may also be recommended by paediatricians, although this will depend on the child's overall health and immunity.

Taking your child to see a doctor or specialist

Your child's primary care physician or paediatrician should always be your first point of contact, and visits to either of these medical professionals are covered by the state insurance your family has. Only in the event of a true emergency should you go to the hospital in your area or call 112. If, on the other hand, the situation is not life-threatening but you are unable to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, you can always take your child to the closest SOS Médecins clinic (also known as emergency doctors), which is open around the clock.

You can use the Doctolib website to locate general practitioners or paediatricians who are accepting new patients in your area if this will be the first time you have taken your child to the doctor. When you have located an appropriate medical professional for your child, you will need to have them sign a document known as the déclaration du choix du médecin traitant for them to be registered as your child's primary practitioner. After that, you can send this form, once it is been filled out, to the sécu (state health insurance).

As a result of France's highly developed healthcare system, paediatric patients in need of specialised care in fields such as neurology, endocrinology, osteopathy, pneumology, psychotherapy, cardiology, and oncology can receive the same level of treatment as their adult counterparts in this country. Having said that, specialised children's wards may be only present in major cities and large hospital hubs.

The following are some examples of centres that are dedicated to the well-being of children:

Centre Médical Infantile (CMI) — a specialised paediatric healthcare institution in Romagnat

A public institute in Lille that provides psychiatry, psychology, and other forms of mental health care for children and adolescents is known as the Établissement public de santé mentale (EPSM).

Centre Médical Spécialisé de L'Efant et de l'Adoloscent (CMSEA) – a multidiscuplinary paediatric medical centre in Paris

Centre de Pneumologie de L'enfant – a specialised pneumology (respitory) medical centre for children in Paris

Children’s hospitals in France

In France, getting hospital care does not require you to go through your family doctor or paediatrician first. However, if hospitalisation is required, the primary care physician can recommend that your child be admitted. The majority of a patient's medical costs during their stay in the hospital are covered by the social security system of the state. On the other hand, you or your private insurance will be responsible for covering the standard rooming costs (forfait hospitalier), which are approximately €20 per day, as well as any additional comfort-based requests, such as a private suite or a television.

In addition, the state will pay a daily allowance of €50 per day for up to 310 days to a parent who is unable to work because they are caring for a kid who is hospitalised. This benefit is available to parents who are the primary caregivers of their children. The monthly stipend for parental presence is also known as the allocation journalière de présence parentale (Ajpp). You can request it through your community's Caisse d'Allocation Familiales (CAF), which is a type of bank account that provides financial assistance to families.

In addition, the SPARADRAP Association for Sick Children offers parents, children, and adolescents a list of vocabulary words and illustrated leaflets in French. These resources are intended to be of assistance. It provides an explanation of how the hospital system operates, which can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with not knowing what to expect.

It is possible that, although every major hospital in France contains a paediatric department, you will still need to look for specialised wards to receive treatment for your child. To this end, Le Point magazine compiles and publishes every year a list of the best hospitals in the country, which includes separate listings for each pathology.

Regarding paediatrics, 589 hospitals in France treat children, and a list of the top 50 from 2019 that is written in French includes the following ones:

Hospitals in Paris and central France

● Necker-Enfants Malades: 149 Rue de Sèvres, 75015 Paris

● CHU d’Estaing Clermont Ferrand: 1 Rue Lucie et Raymond Aubrac, 63100 Clermont-Ferrand

● Robert-Debré: Bd Sérurier, 75019 Paris

● Armand Trousseau: 26 Avenue du Dr Arnold Netter, 75012 Paris

● Hôpital pédiatrique Clocheville: 49 Bd Béranger, 37044 Tour

Hospitals in western France

● CHU Hôpital Mère-Enfant: 330 Av. de Grande Bretagne, 31300 Toulouse

● Hôpital Pellegrin: Place Amélie Raba Léon, 33076 Bordeaux

● CHU Rennes – Hôpital Sud: 16 Bd de Bulgarie, 35200 Rennes

● Femme-Enfant-Adolescent: 38 Bd Jean Monnet, 44000 Nantes

Hospitals in eastern France

● Femme-Mère-Enfant: 59 Bd Pinel, 69500 Bron

● CHU Grenoble – Site nord: Boulevard de la Chantourne, 38700 La Tronche

● Hôpital de Hautepierre: 1 Avenue Molière, 67100 Strasbourg

● CHU Hôpital Nord Saint-Etienne: Avenue Albert Raimond, 42270 Saint-Priest en Jarez

Hospitals in northern France

● Jeanne de Flandre: Av. Eugène Avinée, 59000 Lille

● Charles-Nicolle CHU Rouen: 37 boulevard Gambetta, 76000 Rouen

● CHU Amiens-Picardie: 1 rond-point du Professeur Christian Cabrol, 80054 Amiens

Hospitals in southern France

● Hôpitaux pédiatriques Nice CHU: 57 Av. de la Californie, 06200 Nice

● CHU de Montpellier: 191 avenue du Doyen Gaston Giraud, 34295 Montpellier

● Hôpital Saint Joseph: 26 Bd de Louvain, 13008 Marseille

Children's dental care in France

The first dental appointment for your kid will be covered by your state's health insurance when they reach the age of three, and then once every 3 years until they reach the age of 24. Regarding this, a reminder in the form of the M'Tdents form will be sent to you. Dentists typically assess fees for additional dental appointments that fall outside of these two categories. In essence, the purpose of these routine checkups is to forestall the need for subsequent treatment that might be more uncomfortable.

After you have received your M'T dents form, you can take it to any local dentist to receive a free checkup. Simply search the Ameli directory known as Annuaire Santé for the term "Chirurgien-dentiste."

In contrast to the majority of other nations, there is no need in France that you must register with a dentist. However, dental procedures are often highly busy, and it might be difficult to schedule an appointment in advance. In addition, if you skip two visits, the dentist may still charge you for the consultation, and they will most likely refuse to see you again unless you pay off the balance on your account.

With a few notable exemptions, such as the cost of braces, the vast majority of dental care for children is covered by the state's health insurance programme at no cost. In addition, the SPARADRAP Association offers a colourful leaflet that is written in French and contains information about dental hygiene and what to anticipate during a visit to the dentist for both children and their parents.

Dental healthcare campaigns

In France, although there are frequently local campaigns to encourage children to practise good dental hygiene, the French government does not run campaigns of this kind at the national level (in French). As a consequence of this, you may discover that schools in your area, associations, administrations, or regional health insurance providers organise such initiatives or send you informational brochures. In any event, dental professionals in France advise parents to use only a very pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing their children's teeth twice per day.

Healthcare for the mentally ill in France

Concerns relating to behaviour and mental health are the most common reasons for children and adolescents under the age of 15 require ongoing medical treatment in France. After the COVID-19 health crisis, the government of France made a move toward increasing funding for psychological support services.

Included in this assistance is the PsyEnfantAdo programme, which offers qualified psychological care to children and adolescents between the ages of three and seventeen. Individuals aged three and above who are battling mild to severe psychological disorders will be eligible for state insurance beginning in 2022. This insurance will cover a total of eight treatment sessions for patients when accompanied by a medical reference.

Your child's primary care physician or paediatrician should be your first point of contact if you are concerned about their mental health. You should talk to your kid's primary care physician about the difficulties your child is having. Your physician will then direct you to the structures and services that are the most suitable. After that, an appointment might be scheduled for your kid to meet with a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, or psychotherapist. In addition, the recommended treatments may involve sessions of family therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, or behavioural and cognitive strategies.

The Réseau d'Aide aux Enfants en Difficultés is a national network that may be able to provide your child with psychological support within their primary school (RASED). An illustrated pamphlet is provided by the SPARADRAP Association for Sick Children to assist both parents and children in initiating conversations around mental health.

Preventative healthcare programmes for children in France

The National Public Health Plan of France emphasizes prevention and includes a comprehensive inventory of early interventions to foster healthy lifestyles beginning in childhood and continuing into old age. To be more specific, the plan is comprised of a total of 25 flagship measures, some of which are geared specifically toward children and teenagers. These are the following:

● Promoting increased levels of physical exercise among youngsters as a means of warding off obesity in young people

● To combat unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating poorly, not getting enough exercise, and not caring about the environment, health education is taught in secondary schools.

● Free hearing tests for teenagers and awareness campaigns are two important steps in the fight against hearing loss in young people.

● Providing young people under the age of 25 with free access to sexual health services and contraception through the testing of a condom card.

● Increasing the effectiveness of counselling services for young people by coordinating preventative activities with families and holding group sessions

● Providing first aid training to 80% of the population so that they can respond appropriately to crises and other instances of physical distress

● Kids are given mental health first aid training to better react to students who are experiencing psychological distress.

Schools have a significant role to play in fostering healthy lifestyles and disseminating information regarding prevention. As an example, they motivate and instruct youngsters as young as three or four to participate in activities like swimming and riding bicycles. In addition, the subject of nutrition is discussed in French classrooms, and school cafeterias serve food that is both varied and well-balanced, using ingredients sourced from the surrounding area.

In addition to schools, local administrations are developing infrastructure that encourages walking and bicycling, and the government is providing funding to associations that promote physical and mental health to children and young people. Protecting children from being exposed to advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages is another action that can be taken. Instead, the focus of the local media is on encouraging healthy lifestyle choices through various programmes.

Useful resources

● Le Cleiss is the entity that acts as a liaison between the French social security institutions and their equivalents outside of France. It provides information about the healthcare system in France (in English)

● Info Droits Etrangers is a website that provides foreign nationals with in-depth information regarding the documents and procedures that are necessary to gain access to health coverage in France.

● The AMELI division of L'Assurance Maladie is the French government's department in charge of health insurance.

● Scope Santé is an online resource that will assist you in selecting a qualified medical provider.

● Doctolib is a website that enables users to search for nearby medical professionals as well as make online appointments with them.

● Service Public is the name of the government website that provides access to information regarding social rights and responsibilities in France.

● The website for the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which includes additional resources about medical care for children

● The website for the French Ministry of Education is called Ministère de l'Education. It provides information on a variety of health-related topics, such as vaccinations, disabilities, and psychological support in schools.

● OECD is an organisation that conducts in-depth research and compiles information on the health of children in France and other OECD nations.


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