Special health coverage

Health insurance for people in difficulties

Special health coverage

The French state provides health care for all people living in France. In some cases, you might even benefit from special programs for people in financial difficulties.

If you are not covered by the system of your country of origin and are not eligible for basic social security schemes (which include health insurance). For example, to be covered under the French Social Security System and receive reimbursement, you need to pay contributions through paid employment. For this and some other reasons, you might benefit from two specific health care systems called Universal Health Insurance Coverage (CMU) and State Health Aid (AME).

CMU, Universal Health Insurance

French residents not covered by other insurance may be eligible for CMU (Couverture Maladie Universelle) coverage, which provides sickness and maternity coverage to the same extent as the general social security schemes. They are two types of CMU:

Basic CMU (CMU de base)
You pay medical expenses and are reimbursed according to defined rates (see our Guide to the Health Insurance in France). If the annual household income is higher than a certain amount (which was €9,356 in 2019, but changes every year), a level of contributions has to be paid. This is about 8% of your net income above the mentioned figure. This means you pay 8% contribution over your income deducted by the minimum threshold.

Supplementary CMU (CMU complémentaire)
Affiliation to the supplementary CMU is free if you’re on a low income that is under a certain level, which depends on the number of household members (CMU-C Income Thresholds can be found here ). In this case no payment is required for any medical expenses (doctors, prescribed medicines, hospitalisation, etc.). Note: also people who are under the Social Security System can profit from the supplementary CMU. The CMU-C provides free health insurance for everybody on a low income, whether they are unemployed, employed or self-employed. 

To be eligible for either CMU you must have:

  • Uninterrupted residence in France for at least three months (receipts for accommodation/telephone/electricity bills, etc.); People without a home or in temporary/mobile accommodation should contact their local CCAS (Centre Communal d'Action Sociale) to get the required documentation (attestation de domiciliation)
  • National identity card and/or passport for EU/EEA citizens and/or residence permit (titre de séjour, carte de séjour)
  • Proof of household income. You must not be entitled to any other health care coverage.

The process of applying may take some time, up to three months.

How to apply for CMU?

On the CMU  website (only in French) you can apply directly. The application should include:

  •  Photocopy/ies of ID documentation of all household members (with photo for adults).
  •  Proof of residence (for non-EU/EEA citizens).
  •  Declaration of household income.
  •  Your current insurance situation: if you are registered or previously have been registered with the Social Security.

If the application is accepted, you will get a CMU certificate and a Carte Vitale, which allows you access to healthcare to the same extent as the general social security scheme. For more information go to the CMU website (in French only).

AME, State Health Aid

AME  (Aide Médicale de l'Etat) ensures basic health care for illegal foreign residents, you may be eligible if:

  • You prove that you have been living in France at least three months (e.g. an expired visa, passport, notification of asylum request refusal, a child's enrolment in a school, Electricity/Gas invoice, etc.)
  • Your monthly household income is under a set level (revised annually) during the 12 months before requesting AME - The level depends on the number of person leaving in the household and is the same as for the CMU complémentaire.

How to apply for AME?

You should submit your application to one of the following organizations: your local Caisse d'Assurance Maladie, CCAS (Centre Communal d'Action Sociale), local Town Hall (Mairie), local Social Services, some hospitals or other heath care service providers

The application must include:

  •  A completed 'Demande d'Aide médicale de l'Etat ' form.
  •  photocopy/ies of ID documentation of all household members (with photo for adults)
  •  proof of residence (if homeless or in temporary accommodation contact you local CCAS (Centre Communal d'Action Sociale) who will provide the relevant documentation
  •  proof of household income for the previous 12 months

If your application is accepted, you will be covered for one year. It is renewable, if you continue to qualify. Renewal should be applied for two months before cover expires.

AME means you do not pay for any medical expenses (doctors, prescribed medicines, hospitalisation, etc.). You do not receive a French Social Security number, Carte Vitale or health coverage in other EU/EEA states.

For the latest developments in healthcare, visit our website  on expatriate healthcare.

Further reading

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