The rising popularity of medical tourism in France

Paris Attitude
| | Read : 4 min

Medical tourism has been around since the time of the Egyptians, and is still prevalent in the 21st century. In fact, this kind of tourism is actually on the rise thanks to a combination of economic and technical factors.

People want readily available, high quality healthcare covering a range of ailments at cost-effective prices, and France is actually very well placed to deliver on those expectations. Let’s take a look at the reasons why France is becoming such a popular destination for medical treatments.

the rising popularity of medical tourism in franceMedical tourism: a new reason to travel

According to the Contrepoints website, 16 million people went abroad to receive medical care. That figure looks set to increase by another 15 - 20% in the coming years.medical tourism world mapThis map represents each country’s medical speciality. You can see that in South America, in Brazil specifically, cosmetic surgery is the main speciality. And if you look at Mexico in North America, dentistry and bariatrics are the leading specialities. Hungarian doctors tend to specialise in dentistry as well, while in Israel the main specialism is fertility treatments.

Then if we move across to Asia, Singapore predominantly specialise in cancer treatments and Malaysia favours general health screenings.

Finally, on the African continent, notably South Africa, the specialisations are cosmetic surgeries and cardiac treatments.

If we analyse the main reasons why people travel for healthcare and especially in France, we can see four dominant factors.

New call-to-action


Simply put, going abroad for medical treatments can save people a lot of money – particularly in France.

According to statistics from the magazine “France Stratégie”, there is a large gap in surgery costs between the United States, Singapore and France. As a matter of fact, France was the least expensive country for a prosthetic hip replacement, at around $10,000.

Whereas the same procedure in Singapore and the United states cost around $11,000 dollars and $50,000 respectively – making the United States the most expensive country to have this surgery.

It is clear that France had the most cost-effective prices for non-residents and residents alike when compared to other countries. Furthermore if you are a citizen of the European Union you can be granted more saving rights.

Quality of treatments and advanced technology

Thanks to new technology and associated processes, medical treatments in France are of a very high standard and therefore represent good value for money to international visitors.

In fact, France has received 13 Nobel prizes to date for medical innovations, and every four years, France must demonstrate its commitment to further improving methods by way of acquiring certification. French certification is among the most strict in the world, helping to keep the quality consistently high. Thanks to the skilled trained surgeon you are sure to be in good hands when coming to France for medical treatments.

The shortest waiting periods

The World Health Organization ranks France in the top spot for waiting times, as it offers the shortest waiting periods for medical treatments when compared to other countries. It is very rare to be on waiting list all you would have to do is book in advance.

Availability in the type of speciality treatments

In other countries, a lot of medical treatments are unavailable or not suited to the patient’s needs. It is easier to get a wide range of medical treatments in France, largely because France has a number of alternative, open-minded medical establishments and this attracts doctors from all over the world – increasing the number and type of speciality treatments available. Among the most popular treatments tourist are very fond of are :

  • Cancer Treatment
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Dental Surgery
  • Bariatric surgery

How does social welfare work on an international level in France ?

If you have a resident card, or if you are coming to France for planned medical care, you must consider the following steps and conditions:

First of all, you need a private provisional resident card for you and your family if :

  • you are foreigner (except citizens from within the European Economic Area or Switzerland)
  • you usually live in France but it is irregular and your resident card is not up to date
  • you need medical treatment to avoid serious health conditions
  • you can’t access this medical care in your home country
  • you don’t have a history of threatening behaviour towards the destination country (France)

If you meet all of these conditions, you will need to provide a medical prescription and all medical documents related to your health.

Finally, if you have children who are considered minors, you have to get temporary resident permission to bring them with you.

If you need anything else, we suggest you ask CPAM or CLEISS for more information.

Scheduled medical treatment process

You need to:

  • Stay overnight at least one night in hospital
  • Be receiving treatment for a listed condition. This includes MRI scans, cancer treatments or clinical procedures (your doctor can advise which treatments are on the list)
  • Have permission, prior to being treated, from your health insurance company in your native country to receive treatment abroad.
  • To get this permission, your native country has to take care of these medical treatments.
  • Give document portable S2, it will allow you to get the french pricing system.

How to recoup upfront costs

If you are in France, you have to send your prescription plus a copy of the S2 document to the CPAM company dealing with your medical care. You also have to send your address and bank details to get the reimbursement.

If you have already returned to your home country, you have to contact your health insurance company and complete the english version of the French S3215 form. This document confirms the medical treatment has taken place abroad, and you will need to provide receipts of your medical care costs in order to get the refund.

For unforeseen medical care in France

If you are connected with health insurance companies outside the boundaries of the European Union/European Economic Area/Switzerland, and you have a bilateral agreement for medical care, your expenses will be taken care of by the appropriate French health insurance company.

If you are an immigrant and there is no bilateral agreement between your home country and France, France can not cover your medical expenses. You must contact your health company to get compensation.

In conclusion, it is very worthwhile to come to France for medical treatments, but you must first ensure you have the right documentation in place and follow the approved process for a seamless experience.

New call-to-action

Add a comment

Download the presentation of Paris Attitude