Carte vitale: Five surprising things available on your French health insurance

Working out what your carte vitale entitles you to within the French health service can be a complicated business.

Here are a few of them.


Photo: AFP

Spa treatments

Yes, you read that correctly… but of course the catch is that you need to have a prescription from a doctor stating that you need a cure thermal (in French) for medical reasons.

You'll also need to request your reimbursement before having your treatment to find out how much the French State is willing to reimburse you for it and naturally the reimbursement varies according to your resources and the condition you are treating.

To be reimbursed, you must be suffering from a condition that falls into one of 12 categories listed by the health service, which includes things such as digestive disorders, skin conditions, gynecological issues and rheumatism.

So it might not be that easy to get your hands on a free massage, after all.


The French government announced back in November that it would take the rare step of reimbursing prescription-bought condoms to combat the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

This measure, which covers French-made Eden condoms obtained on prescription from a doctor or midwife, is yet to come into effect but is expected to do so soon.

The idea would be that the State covers 60 percent of the cost of the condoms, hoping that top-up health insurance providers would cover the remainder.

Photo: AFP

Produced by Majorelle laboratories and sold only in pharmacies, Eden condoms cost a fraction of leading brands such as Durex or Manix at €2.60 euros for a box of 12.

They are the first to be approved for reimbursement by France's national health authority, one of the few in Europe to do so.

Agnes Buzyn, the health minister who is a trained doctor, sounded the alarm over the risk of HIV transmission among condom-averse young people.

Around 6,000 new cases of HIV infection were diagnosed in 2016 – down five percent since 2013 – taking the number of people living with the virus in France to over 172,000.

Nicotine substitutes

There's also some good news for any smokers who want to quit out there.

Since January 1st 2019, French health insurance has reimbursed nicotine substitutes, such as lozenges and patches, by 65 percent. Previously it was subject to a €150 cap but that is no longer the case.

You can consult the full list of nicotine substitutes reimbursed by the French health service, including Nicorette, here. Studies have shown that nicotine substitutes are very effective in helping you stop smoking, increasing your chances of quitting from 50 percent to 70 percent, according to the French health insurance site Ameli,fr. Smoking on the rise in France despite rollout of plain packaging

Photo: AFP


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