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Discussion Starter #1
Bonjour,

I will be moving to France for about a year. I will be a visiting Professor so don't qualify for PUMA insurance (its a long story but I will not be paid a salary but rather a living stipend).

So my sponsor has told me the onus is on me to find health insurance for me, wife and two children (aged 9 and 12).

So I have a bunch of questions:

a) I read some sites saying children under the age of 16 qualify for the French public health system regardless of there situation. Is that correct? Can someone point to some official document that says this (I couldn't find it).

b) I looked at a few plans from CIGNA etc and they are very expensive. It would cost $300 per month for each family member. Are there cheaper alternatives?

c) I know visiting a GP in france is cheap, but what about tests, hospital stays etc. I ask because I will have health insurance from my home country to cover all expenses over $10K whilst in France. I was thinking I could self insurance (i.e. pay things out of pocket) but was unsure what health events would likely cost a lot in France? I know that in my home country just going to a few specialists and running some tests can cost thousands of dollars as can spending just a few days in a hospital.


Thx Raria
 

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The good news is that just about all health care costs in France are considerably cheaper than anything you can get in the US. And, if your US insurance will cover treatment and prescriptions outside the US, it may be sufficient, even with the high deductible you cite.

Check with your insurer first to determine the coverage for France (or outside the US). Depending on the type of visa you and your family are going for, you may need a letter from the insurer confirming the coverage while in France, but that may do it for you. For many, if not most, long-stay visas you will need to provide evidence of health insurance coverage as part of the visa application process anyhow.

If your US insurance won't cover outside the US, then you may do better to contact an international insurer like AXA, Allianz, Bupa, Swiss Life or the like. They may be able to offer a "family" expat coverage at a somewhat more reasonable cost - potentially without the high deductible.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Bev,

The plan with the $10K deductible is for people who are traveling internationally (its a US Blue Cross program) so its definitely applicable to my stay in France.

The big question for me is:

a) Are my children covered by the French national health care program as they are more likely to get sick.

b) What's the chances of racking up a health bill of $1000s? I agree that visiting a doctor is cheap ($21 as I understand) and seeing them a dozen times is cheaper than buying insurance. But how expensive is it if you stay over night at a hospital or have to do a battery of tests.


Thanks again.

Raria
 

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Thanks Bev,

The plan with the $10K deductible is for people who are traveling internationally (its a US Blue Cross program) so its definitely applicable to my stay in France.

The big question for me is:

a) Are my children covered by the French national health care program as they are more likely to get sick.

b) What's the chances of racking up a health bill of $1000s? I agree that visiting a doctor is cheap ($21 as I understand) and seeing them a dozen times is cheaper than buying insurance. But how expensive is it if you stay over night at a hospital or have to do a battery of tests.


Thanks again.

Raria
There are Blue Cross policies that cover International care and treatment. And I assume that your policy would cover your children if it covers you over here. Relying on PUMA is tricky, as it requires first 3 months of residence and getting enrolled can take "several" months past the date you submit your application. During this time you want to have coverage - and it's entirely possible that by the time you get a decision on your PUMA application, it's nearly time to return back home again.

Visiting a doctor (GP at least) is now 25€ (of which 70% is reimbursed by the French health care system). To be covered for the remainder, you need a mutuelle, which will run you another 100€ per month per adult, and perhaps 50 - 75€ a month per child.

Hospitalization costs can run up a few thousand euros, depending on what you are hospitalized for, but still much, much less than the US costs. On the Ameli site you can access lists of the "official" rates the national health care service uses for reimbursement purposes. (And basically what you would be charged in a public hospital.)

Or you could look into something like AARO's group coverage. https://aaro.org/medical-insurance They offer a family plan, though I'm not entirely sure how that works. I do know that their coverage is supposed to fulfill the visa requirements, and that you would have to take out a membership in AARO to qualify. But, AARO provides lots of handy information for American expats in France, so a membership could be a good investment.
Cheers,
bev
 

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I think you need to take repatriation into account - for all of you. After all, it seems you do not intend to remain in France. Repatriation can be expensive. So at least look into what your Blue Cross policy provides for in this case, including possible repatriation for a child which would doubtless mean that at least one parent would also return.

I'm not at all sure that France would cover health care costs for your children, as I think your visa will be assessed on the basis that you and your family will not become a burden on the State. However, I believe France would treat your children in, for example, an emergency and then seek reimbursement of the costs. (Not sure on this.)

Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think you need to take repatriation into account - for all of you. After all, it seems you do not intend to remain in France. Repatriation can be expensive. So at least look into what your Blue Cross policy provides for in this case, including possible repatriation for a child which would doubtless mean that at least one parent would also return.

I'm not at all sure that France would cover health care costs for your children, as I think your visa will be assessed on the basis that you and your family will not become a burden on the State. However, I believe France would treat your children in, for example, an emergency and then seek reimbursement of the costs. (Not sure on this.)

Just a thought.
Good point about repatriation. I'll check it out.

This website Guide to health insurance in France | Healthcare | Expatica France says children 16 and under are always covered. The exact verbage is:

"Children aged 16 years and under
Anyone who is 16 years old and under is automatically eligible for healthcare insurance in France regardless of their nationality."
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Some of that information is dubious/out of date.
That's what I figured but I wanted to confirm it was wrong before purchasing health insurance for my kids. What would be a definitive source I could write to and ask via email? The french embassy I'm allocated to in the USA just doesn't reply to emails.

The other unusual thing is that I need to have an interview for the visa. This will occur 2 months before I enter France. But I need to provide proof of insurance at that interview. Is there a quick and cheap way to get this proof?
 

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The other unusual thing is that I need to have an interview for the visa. This will occur 2 months before I enter France. But I need to provide proof of insurance at that interview. Is there a quick and cheap way to get this proof?
Not unusual at all. For anything other than a work visa, you generally must submit proof of insurance as part of your visa application.

If your US based insurance covers your care and treatment overseas (for the whole family), you should obtain a letter from your insurer stating this. The letter must also state that the coverage includes both medical evacuation and repatriation.

Otherwise, you'll need to find travel medical insurance for France that meets the requirements and get a letter from them (once you've paid for the policies). As I understand it, each member of your family needs a visa, and so each member of the family will require insurance coverage (and proof thereof).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What Exactly Does the Embassy Look For?

According to this website The medical insurance requirement - Consulat général de France à Washington
the requirements are below.

but this is rather extreme. most health insurance doesn't cover dental and 0 deductible insurance is atypical. (my blue cross plan has a deductible). So will the embassy expect a letter stating all of the below. I'm just conscientious that what is written and what is expected may differ!

"For a long stay visa, the applicant has to provide a health insurrance valid for the from a French or foreign company, mentionning the coverage of the followings risks, without any deductible :
- health
- dental care
- hospitalization
- accidents
- pharmacy
- disability
- death
The health insurrance has to mention the lenght of stay, the applicants name and the places of coverage (France and all Schengen countries).
We kindly remind you that the insurance coverage letter is a mandatory document. Applicants missing this document will systematically have their visa denied."
 

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There are Blue Cross plans in the States that do offer international coverage, and which have been used in the past for the coverage required for visa applications. It might be best to contact your insurer and simply ask them if they can/will provide such a letter. If they have done so in the past, they probably have a template all set up and ready to go. I think what the consulate is trying to avoid are those "high deductible" plans in the US.

If your current coverage isn't sufficient for the visa application, then you'll need to look into true expat insurance - normally through an international insurer such as AXA, Allianz, Bupa or similar. Although expat insurance seems expensive compared to a standard US policy, remember that the "co-pays" are much, much lower than anything you can get in the US. In the long run, your net out of pocket expenses will be far less while in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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There are Blue Cross plans in the States that do offer international coverage, and which have been used in the past for the coverage required for visa applications. It might be best to contact your insurer and simply ask them if they can/will provide such a letter. If they have done so in the past, they probably have a template all set up and ready to go. I think what the consulate is trying to avoid are those "high deductible" plans in the US.

If your current coverage isn't sufficient for the visa application, then you'll need to look into true expat insurance - normally through an international insurer such as AXA, Allianz, Bupa or similar. Although expat insurance seems expensive compared to a standard US policy, remember that the "co-pays" are much, much lower than anything you can get in the US. In the long run, your net out of pocket expenses will be far less while in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #13
There are Blue Cross plans in the States that do offer international coverage, and which have been used in the past for the coverage required for visa applications. It might be best to contact your insurer and simply ask them if they can/will provide such a letter. If they have done so in the past, they probably have a template all set up and ready to go. I think what the consulate is trying to avoid are those "high deductible" plans in the US.

If your current coverage isn't sufficient for the visa application, then you'll need to look into true expat insurance - normally through an international insurer such as AXA, Allianz, Bupa or similar. Although expat insurance seems expensive compared to a standard US policy, remember that the "co-pays" are much, much lower than anything you can get in the US. In the long run, your net out of pocket expenses will be far less while in France.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks again Bev. It's all very confusing and I've asked the consulate for clarification which they will hopefully provide and I'll relay here.

The long term science/academic visa Long stay visa for scientists, researchers and teachers - Consulat Général de France à San Francisco makes list of requirements but has no such requirement for health insurance. But other parts of the website do mention the need for healthcare insurance upto $35K coverage.

I've already found one issue with their website (some places say children under 12 don't need to interview other places say 12 and under) so I'll check up with them and respond back for the benefit of everyone.


Thx Raria
 

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The scientific/researcher visa is a form of work visa. If you work in France, you pay into the "cotisation" system (i.e. the social insurance system) and so you are covered by the national health scheme (plus whatever mutuelle - top up insurance - your employer offers). If you get a regular work visa (i.e. your employer in France has obtained work authorization to hire you), then you're also covered by the sécu and the employer's mutuelle coverage.

It's only the non-working visas/residence permits where you have to show private coverage for health - because if you're not working in France, you aren't paying into the system.

Ray, aren't you the person here who used their Blue Cross cover to satisfy your visa requirements? Can you help here?
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The scientific/researcher visa is a form of work visa. If you work in France, you pay into the "cotisation" system (i.e. the social insurance system) and so you are covered by the national health scheme (plus whatever mutuelle - top up insurance - your employer offers). If you get a regular work visa (i.e. your employer in France has obtained work authorization to hire you), then you're also covered by the sécu and the employer's mutuelle coverage.

It's only the non-working visas/residence permits where you have to show private coverage for health - because if you're not working in France, you aren't paying into the system.

Ray, aren't you the person here who used their Blue Cross cover to satisfy your visa requirements? Can you help here?
Cheers,
Bev
The quirk is that as professors we aren't paid a salary (rather we are paid a living stipend) so we don't pay into the social insurance system. This is true with all academic sabbatical stays as during our stays we are stilled employed by our home town university and can't take another position (but we can take stipends).
 

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The quirk is that as professors we aren't paid a salary (rather we are paid a living stipend) so we don't pay into the social insurance system. This is true with all academic sabbatical stays as during our stays we are stilled employed by our home town university and can't take another position (but we can take stipends).
Yup, and I suspect that is why you get a visitor visa when you're going to France on sabbatical. (We've had a few other profs on sabbatical through here in the past.) In the long run, it's actually much simpler that way. But as the old saying goes, "getting there is half the fun."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yup, and I suspect that is why you get a visitor visa when you're going to France on sabbatical. (We've had a few other profs on sabbatical through here in the past.) In the long run, it's actually much simpler that way. But as the old saying goes, "getting there is half the fun."
Cheers,
Bev
Can you perhaps point me to these posts? I tried searching but nothing came up.
 

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The insurance also has to pay the providers directly, and most (all?) ex-pat insurance does not do that either. The alternative is travel insurance which has no deductible and covers dental emergencies, repatriation, etc. You would then, of course, have to pay any medical bills out of pocket while there - except for emergencies, which would be covered. We chose that route and will put money away each month as a kind of medical account for when we might need it.

Good luck
 

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Hi, do you mind if I ask who you are using? I'm looking at travel insurance too and have gotten a quote from C&F Travel Insurance Int'l but would like to compare it to others. Thanks!
Bruce

The insurance also has to pay the providers directly, and most (all?) ex-pat insurance does not do that either. The alternative is travel insurance which has no deductible and covers dental emergencies, repatriation, etc. You would then, of course, have to pay any medical bills out of pocket while there - except for emergencies, which would be covered. We chose that route and will put money away each month as a kind of medical account for when we might need it.

Good luck
 

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Can you perhaps point me to these posts? I tried searching but nothing came up.
I don't believe there have been any threads on the topic of sabbaticals. Generally, it only comes up as a side comment in discussions on the various aspects of coming to France. (Usually cited as to why someone doesn't need a work visa.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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