June 23, 2017 by Crescentine
A Carte Vitale is the health insurance card of the national health care system in France. With the new updated smart cards containing electronic documents of the treatment process, there is no more need for manual sending of your treatment papers to your mutuelle or the CPAM / Caisse Primaire D’assurance Maladie – the government body in charge of the national health care system in the country. Hold on! Apart from the CPAM there is a second organization called the RSI / Régime Social des Indépendants who does the same thing but exclusively for entrepreneurs which I will explain in another blog post. For now, let’s focus on the CPAM!
In France, it is mandatory to have all kinds of insurances to protect you and those around you from accidents and damages. Such required insurances, for example, are car insurance, house insurance and healthcare insurance.
Every single citizen residing in France has the right to have a Carte Vitale.
As you might have already learned when you attended your OFII formation seminars, there are two organizations working hand-in-hand to provide you with 100% health insurance coverage. Yes, you read that right – one hundred percent! Vive la France!
The first organization, as I’ve already mentioned is the CPAM. They are in charge of providing you with your Carte Vitale and reimburses up to 80% of your medical expenses. So, who reimburses the remaining 20%? That would be your mutuelle.
A mutuelle is what they call the health insurance you get from a private insurance company. You may have already seen some of them around such as AXA, Allianz, MAAF and Harmonie Mutuelle. There are so many to choose from!
Now that you understand the background details of the healthcare system in France. Let’s start with the process of getting that card and getting insured!
Step 1. Go to the CPAM website and download form 736.
Unlike the required OFII processes, no one will remind you that you need to apply for the Carte Vitale. So make sure to take the initiative and get it as soon as possible!
You are eligible for the Carte Vitale after three (3) months of residence in France on a long stay visa.
Go to the CPAM website and in the search bar, just type in ‘736’ and you will see in the results « Demande d’ouverture des droits à l’assurance maladie », download this form to get started.
Accomplish the form and see the requirements. As of June 2017, the requirements are:
- A photocopy of your passport, long stay visa and OFII stamp.
- A copy of your birth certificate with the DFA red ribbon. Photocopies are accepted, make sure to photocopy both the certificate and the red ribbon page.
- If you already have work in France, a photocopy of your work contract or payslips.
- Proof of residence in France for 3 months or more: lease contract, electric / water bills, phone bills, hotel receipts or if you are staying with someone, an attestation d’hébergement from the owner or primary renter of the residence that you are staying at with details such as when you started living there.
- You need to have a bank account, either your own or a joint account as you will need a copy of your IBAN (Relevé d’identité bancaire). All reimbursements will be made through this account.
- Accomplished 736 form.
- If you have a child who is a minor, download form S3705 from the website and follow the instructions there.
Once you have all the requirements, schedule an appointment with the nearest CPAM office. Attend your appointment, submit all the required documents and you just have to wait for 2-3 months to receive your Carte Vitale.
Note that during the waiting period, you will receive an attestation, along with your new social security number, which will serve as your temporary card until you receive your permanent one.
You will also receive a letter asking for a few more documents to submit via courier such as a photo for your card. After that, your fresh new Carte Vitale will arrive in the mail!
Breathe easy, you are now 80% insured! Now, for the remaining 20% with the mutuelle.
Step 2. Find a job or find an insurance company.
A mutuelle santé is usually provided by your employer but if you don’t have an employer yet or if you’re going to start your own business, you can go to any insurance company and apply for a mutuelle santé wherein they will present you with several options depending on your needs.
They will usually present you a comparison table with several niveau (levels) or renforts (reinforcements). As the level or reinforcement increases, the benefits increase but the cotisation (premium) also increases. With an employer, the employer will pay for a huge chunk of the cotisation while taking the rest out of your salary. Meanwhile, without an employer, you have to pay for it all on your own and the benefits might not be as good as with an employer.
You can also opt to be covered under your spouse’s mutuelle. He/she only needs to pay a small increase on the fee to allow you to have the same advantages as he/she does.
With my mutuelle, I currently have a niveau 3 and I pay EUR 36 every month. Not bad!
A consultant from the insurance company will help you with the documents. They will prepare the forms for you to sign along with the contracts. You also have to give them a copy of your IBAN from your bank.
Once all requirements have been submitted, you will receive via mail your Carte Mutuelle which is a tough piece of paper that looks something like this:
You are now 100% insured! Every time that you go to the doctor, present your Carte Vitale and Carte Mutuelle for all your medical reimbursements. Includes all types of medical care, even for purchasing your glasses!