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I've been going through the threads and I still can't find the answers I'm looking for, mostly for my wife's peace of mind. I'm an American who lived in Sweden for a number of years and now I live in Scotland. For work reasons, I'm a research scientist, I am considering applying for a job with CNRS or INSERM. I have a lot of collaborators in France and very good friend/collaborator in Grenoble. I saw some info from Bev about health care and would like to know more.

Health Care
How does it compare to the UK which has excellent health care in my opinion? How does the reimbursement work? How much would a visit to the doctor for let's say you for being sick and needing antibiotics? What about medication, it's very cheap in Scotland, what about France? How long does the reimbursement take? What about children's health care? Dentists??

Schools
We have a 10 year old budding C. Renaldo (or S. Gerrard since I follow Liverpool :( ). We would think about putting him in the American School in Grenoble which costs €2500/yr, are there any other hidden educational costs?

I think I'll stop there for now.

Thank you in advance.

Cheers,
Mike
 
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I've been going through the threads and I still can't find the answers I'm looking for, mostly for my wife's peace of mind. I'm an American who lived in Sweden for a number of years and now I live in Scotland. For work reasons, I'm a research scientist, I am considering applying for a job with CNRS or INSERM. I have a lot of collaborators in France and very good friend/collaborator in Grenoble. I saw some info from Bev about health care and would like to know more.

Health Care
How does it compare to the UK which has excellent health care in my opinion? How does the reimbursement work? How much would a visit to the doctor for let's say you for being sick and needing antibiotics? What about medication, it's very cheap in Scotland, what about France? How long does the reimbursement take? What about children's health care? Dentists??

Schools
We have a 10 year old budding C. Renaldo (or S. Gerrard since I follow Liverpool :( ). We would think about putting him in the American School in Grenoble which costs €2500/yr, are there any other hidden educational costs?

I think I'll stop there for now.

Thank you in advance.

Cheers,
Mike
Hi Mike, and welcome to the forum.

If comparing like with like, state health system with state health system, the French version comes out considerably ahead imo.

Once you have your job you will be covered under the French system, and you'll be issued with a 'carte vitale'. This is a reimbursement system for part (most) of the costs. You hand your carte vitale over to the doctor, specialist, pharmacy, clinic receptionist etc, and the transaction goes through, in some cases automatically debited to the French system (not your bank account), in others you pay up front and the sum is promptly reimbursed to your bank account.

However there is a remaining percentage of said costs that is not covered. Most French people take up an insurance policy with a 'Mutuelle' insurance company. These very reasonably priced policies can vary in the extent of the cover, and are priced accordingly. For example you can chose the most fully comprehensive available, which will mean a correspondingly larger monthly premium, or opt out of certain elements of the cover on offer (eg dental, eye care, etc), to keep the cost of the monthly premiums as low as possible.

If you have this cover you hand the Mutuelle card/documentation to the pharmacy,hospital etc, and the sum not covered by the carte vitale is charged automatically to the Mutuelle - you do not need to get your wallet out. In the case of consultations with a doctor, where you have to pay the full amount up front, the balance of the charge not covered by the carte vitale is reimbursed by the Mutuelle to your bank account, automatically.

As for the quality of treatment/care, my personal experience is that it is streets ahead in some respects of the British equivalent. Even if the huge burden of costs to the French state has forced cutbacks that are gradually beginning to make themselves felt.

Doctors - ime - spend more time with you, and are correspondingly more like to make a correct diagnosis. They will send you for a second opinion to a specialist without a moment's hesitation. The delay for appointments with specialists, or admittance into hospital for minor interventions, is generally very short. All documentation and letters between your GP and the specialist are shown to you, there is no information hidden from you.

Purely anecdotal, but I recently came across the following comment on another forum, on this topic (UK doctors and treatment):

Another friend who is still a GP [in UK] told me about a case that happened at his surgery just before he joined it where a woman came in complaining of leg pains. The doctor examined her and on the evidence he had decided she was suffering from cramp. It turned out to be deep vein thrombosis and she died. Her widower sued the practice for a substantial sum and won.

This condition can be tested with a blood test and ultrasound and/or venogram.

Coincidentally that morning I had seen my doctor in France) for something entirely unrelated, and mentioned in passing that I had some leg pain as well. Not taking any chances, the doc sent me for emergency blood tests straight away (results came through in 90 minutes) at the local lab, with ultrasound by a specialist a couple of hours later. All clear - but I was impressed by the sense of urgency and general efficiency.

Another example - my father was on a waiting list for a hernia operation for over a year back in 1993. Eventually the condition worsened, until he was finally admitted for an emergency op in a UK hospital, at considerably greater cost to the system that had they operated before the situation became critical. In comparison a friend of mine diagnosed with a hernia in France on a Friday, was admitted to hospital for the op the following Monday. Nothing 'critical' about his condition.

Generally speaking I'm considerably more confident in the system here that back in the UK.
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

It seems I'm explaining the French health care system everywhere I go lately - but mostly that's due to all the fuss and feathers back in the US about trying to get something going...

The French health care system is excellent, but in its own way. Everyone here who is an expat takes a little while to adjust to some of its peculiarities. I'll try to explain a few of them as briefly as I can:

When you go see a doctor, you pay for your appointment - currently 22€ for a generalist and 27€ for a specialist unless you are seeing a doctor who is "non-agrée" (i.e. doesn't stick to the government schedule of fees). The doctor asks for your carte vitale (health care card for the French system), and records your visit electronically. About a week or two later, the reimbursement turns up in your bank account.

The sécu reimburses 60 - 70% for most day to day stuff - doctor's appointments, prescription meds, lab tests, x-rays, etc. - and then passes along the information to your mutuelle (top-up insurance) if you have one. They reimburse the rest, also directly to your bank account, a couple of days later.

Most pharmacies set things up so that they receive payment directly from the sécu and your mutuelle, so other than the paperwork exchange, you get your prescription items (including medical equipment, like slings or crutches, etc.) without having to pay for them. You generally pay for lab work or x-rays and are reimbursed like with a doctor. Occasionally you will be given a form to send in to the local sécu office instead of having the claim transmitted by the provider.

In-patient treatment at public hospitals is paid directly by the sécu and the mutuelle. You pay only for tv rental or phone service or other personal charges not covered by the sécu. In a private hospital, it can depend on how much of the bill your mutuelle covers and the type of treatment you get, but generally that's all handled out of sight.

Dental and eyeglass care is not terribly well reimbursed by the sécu. (Children's coverage is much better than that for adults for both dental and eyeglasses.) This is where it pays to have a good mutuelle, though most folks have standard mutuelle coverage through their employers.

Overall, I'd say the health care system really is excellent. You do have to pick your doctors according to your own tastes, and because the French tend to defer to anyone considered an "expert" I'm considered a bit of a noodge for getting a second opinion - but it was all covered with no questions asked (and I saved the sécu considerable expense by turning down a particularly invasive and expensive test I felt I didn't need).

Can't help you on the school issue, as I don't have kids.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Schools
We have a 10 year old budding C. Renaldo (or S. Gerrard since I follow Liverpool :( ). We would think about putting him in the American School in Grenoble which costs €2500/yr, are there any other hidden educational costs?
Afraid I know little or nothing about the private schools, but just a thought - from secondary school age up the French have a network of state schools which have special sports sections. For example my daughter went to a ski-study college from 6e (11 years up). There are also special 'judo-study', 'foot-study' sections etc, all around France. The son of my French neighbour is in a 'foot-study' section at a college in Avignon.

Competition is fierce to get in - academic levels have to be good as well. This is because the kids spend a huge amount of time doing sports. Once at lycée level, in skiing for example, the kids take four instead of three years to complete their baccalaureat, simply because they spend virtually the entire winter from December through to the end of April skiing. Plus half the summer and autumn/fall holidays on a glacier somewhere.

It's a good system - the kids do tend to form a sporting elite that is a little bit envied by the 'ordinary' pupils, but otherwise the teaching standards are high, and the kids don't suffer academically. It's an incredibly tough life though. They really have to take it very seriously to survive. Virtually every weekend for a good chunk of the year is dedicated to their chosen sport as well as a lot of hours during the school week.
 
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