Understanding the French healthcare system

Social Security and Complementary Health

Published: SEPT. 20 2023 Updated: SEPT. 20 2023 2 MIN

France’s healthcare system is widely recognized as one of the best in the world. It rests on two essential pillars: Social security and complementary health (mutuelle). In this article, we take a closer look at these two crucial components of the French healthcare system.


“Sécurité Sociale” is a social protection system that guarantees access to healthcare for all French citizens. It was created in 1945 by the French government after the World War 2, and is financed mainly by social contributions and taxes. Here are the main aspects of French Social Security:

Universal coverage :

Social Security provides basic coverage for all French residents, whatever their financial situation. It covers a large proportion of medical expenses, including medical consultations, medicines, hospitalization, dental and optical care.

Vitale card :

Every insured person receives a Carte Vitale, an electronic card that facilitates reimbursement of medical expenses. Health professionals read this card to obtain instant access to the insured person’s medical information and Social Security entitlements.


Refunds :

Social Security generally reimburses a portion of medical expenses. Reimbursement rates vary according to the type of treatment, but on average cover 70% of medical costs.


Although Social Security covers a large proportion of medical expenses, there are often costs that are not covered. That’s where complementary health comes in. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Supplementary cover :

They cover the complementary part of the cost, also known as the “ticket modérateur”, which must be paid by the insured after the compulsory part has been paid. The types of care generally covered are hospitalization, routine care, dental care, optical care and supplementary benefits.

Support :

Complementary health can reimburse most, or all, medical expenses not covered by Social Security. The amount of reimbursement depends on the contract.

France’s healthcare system is based on the Sécurité Sociale and complementary health schemes, which guarantee universal access to basic healthcare with optimum coverage of medical expenses. This combination ensures comprehensive medical coverage for French residents, contributing to the reputation of the French healthcare system as one of the best in the world.

For further information, please contact us by e-mail: contact@studcorp.com or by telephone: +33 5 47 30 64 54.

Charlotte from the STUDCORP team.