It can be a frightening experience visiting a doctor in another country. You’re not feeling good, you’re worried about the language and you’re worried about the cost.
Don’t get too worried about the language. Most doctors can at the very least read English quite well. So many medical reviews are written in English that they have to. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t make an effort to speak French. If you can, the experience of living in France will go much better. (If you can’t, look in the top right hand corner of this page and click on the link there.)
The biggest difference you’ll find compared to NHS doctors is in the length and thoroughness of the medical examination. You’ll probably be asked to strip down to your underwear, have your body examined for any obvious problems and have your blood pressure taken.
Once the examination is completed, you’ll be given a prescription for any medicine and will then be asked to pay. Normally this payment will be between 20 and 30 euros. If you have a Carte Vitale, the doctor will put this into his terminal and this starts the process to have your reimbursement of your payment made directly into your bank account. If you don’t yet have a Carte Vitale, the doctor will fill out some papers that you sign and date and send off to the CPAM.
Note that you are only reimbursed about 70% of what you pay the doctor (unless you have a long-term serious illness such as diabetes when you are reimbursed 100%.) If you want to be fully reimbursed, you need to take out additional medical insurance – what is called a ‘mutuelle’.
Visiting a doctor in France need not be a frightening experience.