Blog Archives

Charlotte at the dentist

From Dr. Masquefa’s website

No, we did not just adopt a person or a dog and then have her teeth examined but we did learn a new word. As with most non-essential medical appointments during lockdown this spring, our annual visit to the dentist got postponed and it was only recently that we rescheduled it. Since we prefer to make our appointments in person, we walked the short distance down to his office where we found a notice on the door stating that only those patients who had already scheduled their rendez-vous by telephone could enter. Oh boy, that meant we’d have another lesson in communication without being able to see the other person’s face. In reality, since everyone is wearing a mask these days, that’s not unusual, but even body language at least gives you a clue that you are being understood. So we went home, made the call easily enough, and secured a time for 2 weeks later when we discovered that it wasn’t just the appointment process that had changed. Read the rest of this entry

A not-so emergency room visit

The bench with one less splinter

One of the reasons we created this blog was to make sure that Americans who were planning a permanent move to France could find details that didn’t appear to be readily available five years ago when we started the investigative process. There seemed to have been ample information for our English-speaking cousins, the British, but some of that didn’t apply because they were part of the European Union so it resembled in some ways moving from one US state to another. Because of Brexit, the dealings with the government that have always been a requirement for us including visas, residence cards, applying for national health insurance, and getting a French driver’s license are now equally important to Her Majesty’s subjects. Today’s health topic, that unexpectedly follows the medical discussion from our most recent blog post could be of use to anyone wondering about our experience with urgent medical care. Read the rest of this entry

Can you see me now?

Doc on the box from the Doctolib website

Doctors Kildare, Ben Casey, Martin, Marcus Welby, “Bones”, House, and McDreamy. All names that conjure up images of physicians who have appeared on our TVs over the years. Although we aren’t currently watching any medical programs, a doctor did indeed appear recently on our screen—well computer anyway—and we were on his at the same time in his office about a mile (1.6 km) from here. Walking there wouldn’t have been a problem but avoiding one more potential exposure to the coronavirus, especially in a compact waiting room, made the decision to try this extreme version of “social distancing” an easy one. We had each received an email from the French health authority encouraging us to schedule a checkup that we might have delayed because of the lockdown, which was certainly true in our case, and that was the extra push we needed to schedule an appointment. Read the rest of this entry

Seeing the eye doctor

City walls and gate view from the ophthalmologist’s office

Luckily neither Bill nor I have any health issues so the few visits to medical personnel that we’ve had since moving to France have all been what here is often called a contrôl that we think of as a checkup. We’ve been to our family doctor, a clinic for blood work, the dentist, a dermatologist, and most recently the ophthalmologist. Visits like that in the US were always stressful for me so when you add in the challenge of conducting those encounters in another language, I can feel my blood pressure rising. Because we get many questions from blog readers about the French universal health care system, of which we are now members, we like to include our own experiences that might help those wondering what to expect. The highlighted links above will take you to the previous related posts and today I’ll talk about our latest rendez-vous Read the rest of this entry

Seeing a dermatologist

A selection of skin creams called lait corps

About 8 years ago, when we were still living in the US, I went to a dermatologist to have 3 spots on my face looked at. The doctor said that she could easily remove them with a dab of liquid nitrogen but that they would eventually return requiring a repeat of the procedure. True to her word, the spots quickly disappeared and also as she advised they did come back so it was time to see a specialist here in France. We’d already been to the dentist and to our general practitioner and we knew that we’d have to see him again to get a referral since you need that other than for a gynecologist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, or dentist. Armed with the doctor’s letter we walked two blocks to the next group of medical offices to get an appointment. Read the rest of this entry

It’s mutual, I’m sure

Top-up insurance protection from Que Choisir website

In the October blog post Universal health care, I wrote about how everyone in France must have health insurance. We had received our Carte Vitale, the ID card to show that we are part of the French healthcare system, that we present at the doctor’s office, hospital, laboratory, pharmacy, etc. Coverage is generally 70 percent of the cost of the procedure leaving the patient to pay the remaining 30 percent out of pocket or to buy a private top-up insurance policy that costs between 50 and 100 euros per month per person. Coverage for dental, vision, and hearing problems will increase to 100 percent within 2 years. Anyone who has a long term disease such as cancer or diabetes is already covered at 100 percent as are people who are unable to afford additional insurance. We’ve now signed up for assurance maladie complémentaire more commonly called a mutuelle. Read the rest of this entry

Universal health care

Carte Vitale brochure

Everyone who lives and/or works in France is required to have health insurance. In fact, it’s treated as a fundamental right in the Constitution with the Preamble stating that the Nation “shall guarantee to all, notably to children, mothers and elderly workers, protection of their health….” When applying for our visa that allowed us to stay here during the first year we had to prove that we had health insurance coverage that would take care of any emergency situations plus pay for sending us back to the US for treatment of anything serious and/or long term during the one-year validity of our visa. A common benefit of travel insurance is repatriation to the country where your trip began, so a policy for that was easy to find and accepted for the visa application. Once you’ve lived in France for at least 3 continuous months you become eligible to apply for Protection Universelle Maladie that we think of as universal health care and we have now been accepted. Read the rest of this entry