Pregnant in France? Get registered for French healthcare first and than I will tell you what next….
How shall I start…I am very honest person but I kept a bit of privacy to protect myself and my family while writing a blog. However, I know the nature of the blog is that we are ourselves and I ll keep it this way. The reason I’m saying this all is that I got pregnant in France… which by the way was a real miracle and made me the happiest person on the earth….and therefore, I want to share with you my observations about becoming, being pregnant and what comes after…in France and especially in Lyon.. It has been an interesting, confusing journey to find my way and understand the system, care and support I can get living in France. I hope it will be useful for you.
So let’s get started shall we? Let me present tell you the very beginning of getting into the French healthcare system.
Firstly, I need to admit that even if it looks so complicated, the French healthcare system is regarded as one of the best in the world, and also for childbirth. So you can relax and be pregnant in France assuming you fulfilled all the necessary formalities. There is also a mutuelle which is a top-up or complementary health insurance plan that covers what the standard obligatory Sécu doesn’t. Almost all of the french employers offer this to their employees and families…even couples not married. I got the mutuel from my boyfriend when i got to Lyon and was nicely surprised.
Normally, If you have lived in France longer than three months, you can register for French healthcare via your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie) office. You can find your local CPAM office via the Ameli website (in French). These two organisms and websites you need to remember well…you will be visiting it very often.
How to do it? This depends on your situation.
- If you are employed, your employer will first register you with French social security after which you can register for French healthcare. Your employer may arrange your healthcare registration but it’s not a legal requirement, so make sure you chase the paperwork and check CPAM has been contacted.
- If you are unemployed, you need to initiate the registration at CAMP yourself.
In any case, you will need to prepare a few documents:
- your passport or national ID card,
- proof of your long-term residence
- marriage or birth certificates if family are to be included
- evidence of income
- proof of your address in France
Now, about one very important card – carte vitale.This green, plastic health insurance card with your photo, a chip and all your details is necessary for any doctor appointments, hospital visits, pharmacies. Everyone over the age of 16 resident in France needs to have it. Once you are registered with the French health system you will be issued with yours. It may happen that getting your carte vitale can take some time – some people have waited more than a year – in this case, you should ask for an ‘attestation de couverture sociale’ which proves you have access to healthcare in France until your card arrives.
Lastly, why this card is so important? Because it’s like your identificator and also manage your reimbursements. You may have already known that in France you need to pay for everything in front: visit at doctor, hospital, laboratory, pharmacy etc. Once you paid, showed your card, it will be fully or partly reimbursed. So keep it always safe with you!
Choosing your main doctor is not difficult. You have the choice!
Officially, you can download a form called a Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant from the Assurance Maladie online: complete this and take it to the Doctor of your choice for registering with CPAM. Doctors are not obliged to accept you as a patient and they are allowed to discontinue accepting you as a patient if they choose.
For choosing a doctor, I would recommend talking to neighbors, friends and family to get recommendations. You should consider the distance from your home as this is useful. Lastly, the very helpful and useful website that will help you find any doctor in France and specialist, and book the appointment online is doctorlib.com. It is useful, you don’t need to call and wait on hold, you check the free slots and book the one that suits you the best! I love it!
OK, now once you are registered in French healthcare you can think about registering your pregnancy which is essential for getting the support, benefits and necessary appointments and reimbursements.
But first things first, to identify if you are pregnant, it is universal all over the world. Pregnancy tests (test de grossesse) you can find in most French pharmacies. Once it is positive, you should visit a doctor to have your pregnancy confirmed. The doctor or midwife will then ask about family history and take a blood test to identify the risk of any diseases to the baby. The doctor is then likely to refer you to, or ask you to choose, a gynaecologist who will be your first port of call during the pregnancy.
What is important, is that in the first two months, you should choose and register in the hospital where you want to deliver. It is strange…so early, you are not sure of anything and you need to commit to some hospital. But you should. Otherwise, you might struggle to get a place. A maternity hospital, clinic or ward is called la maternité. While choosing the hospital of your delivery, think well about the type of the pregnancy you have and if the hospital is prepared. There are special hospitals like Croix Rousse in Lyon which is the top of the top and cover of the pathologies, twin pregnancies and other cases. They are equipped in the best staff, specialists and necessary equipment. Consider also the distance to the hospital and the price while choosing between private and public. Yes, it is possible to go to a private hospital (clinique) in France, which will ensure your stay is more comfortable. Also remember to check with your insurer – not all insurance covers private hospital care and it can exceed the amount of € 5,000 per day. Home birth in France is not common and is usually not covered fully by insurance.
For this registration at the hospital of delivery, you should prepare the following documents:
- ID card
- Proof of address (e.g. EDF bill)
- Date of last period
- Securité sociale or CMU attestation. Ask for this at your CPAM center or via your CPAM account on ameli.fr
- Insurance/mutuelle card
- All lab results you may have, including ultrasound summaries
And now wait for the date of your first antenatal examination. After this the real fun starts…..