France's health-care system is recognized as one of the world's best.

France offers medical and health services for students, including preventive and wellness services.

The national student health-care plan and supplemental group plans 

French health-care coverage, provided under the social security system, is of very high quality. Covered individuals are reimbursed for a portion of their medical expenses in return for a low basic payment. For students, that payment was €198 in 2010. You join the plan at your institution when you register for classes at the beginning of the academic year. Participation in the plan is mandatory for non-European students. 

Students from countries in the European Economic Space are exempted from participation as long as they hold either a European health insurance card (or temporary certificate) valid for the entire academic year or a certificate of private insurance providing full coverage for medical risks without restrictions related to cost. 

The social security system reimburses about 60% of expenses related to an illness, on average. Operating alongside this mandatory national system, supplemental group health plans (with annual premiums starting at €110) allow students to obtain coverage for all or part of the expenses not covered by the basic national plan. 

The two largest student group health plans are:

  • LMDE (La Mutuelle des Étudiants)
  • USEM, a federation of 10 regional student plans

To participate in the national student health-care system, students must be under 28 years of age and enrolled in a program of at least 4 months' duration at an approved institution of higher education.  

Beginning on the date when the above conditions are no longer met (i.e., when a student reaches the age of 28 or completes his or her educational program and has not yet begun a first job), students may apply for an extension of health and maternity benefits for a period not to exceed 4 years. The extension request must be submitted to the office of the health insurance fund (CPAM, Caisse primaire d'assurance maladie) with jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence.

Other students (those enrolled in programs shorter than 4 months and students enrolled in a non-participating institution) must obtain medical insurance from a private insurance company. Annual premiums for such coverage in France range from €150 to €550. 

Students over age 28 may benefit under certain conditions from the system of universal medical coverage (CMU, Couverture Médicale Universelle), for which they must pay a special annual premium. 

In case of Emergency

Every French hospital maintains an emergency room that is open around the clock. Physicians and pharmacies are organized to provide night and weekend hours. Every pharmacy posts in its window the name and number of the physicians and pharmacies currently providing emergency services. 

In case of medical emergency, dial 18 (fire) or 15 (emergency medical services) from any landline telephone. From a cell phone, dial 112, the all-purpose emergency number throughout the European Union.