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Explainer: French healthcare terms that are useful to know

From Ameli to ticket modérateur to avis ponctuel, use our glossary of French healthcare terms to better understand the system in France

A mutuelle us a top-up health insurance policy Pic: Shutterstock // Jerome.Romme

Moving abroad can be a bit of a maze, with lots of new systems to navigate as part of your everyday life.

Upon your arrival in France, enrolling in the French healthcare system is one of the first things you should do. 

In doing so, you are likely to see lots of new and unknown terms and phrases, so we have gathered some of the most common to explain exactly what they mean. 

Avis ponctuel 

A one-off opinion from a specialist. 


Assurance maladie en ligne’, the website for the network of Cpams. You are asked to put in your postcode so as to tailor the information to your area. 

Attestation de droits

Certificate proving the right to French state health insurance. 


The body dealing with your state reimbursements; usually Cpam but may be another body if you are self-employed in other sectors such as agriculture.

Carte Vitale 

A health card that carries your social security data. For use when visiting health workers and pharmacies.

Complémentaire Santé Solidaire (CSS)

Top up insurance provided free by the state for people with low incomes.

Cotisation Subsidiaire Maladie

An annual payment into the state healthcare system for economically inactive residents with means over a certain level.


Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie, your local state health insurance body. 

Dépassements d’honoraires

That part of fees charged by sector 2 doctors that goes above the state fixed tariff.

Feuilles de soin 

Reimbursement claims forms now not usually used where doctors accept your carte Vitale. 


Levies taken off medicine reimbursements to help fund the health service.

Hors parcours 

Health treatment sought away from, or without referral from your médecin traitant

Médecin traitant

Your personal GP.

Médecine de ville

Treatment outside a hospital, eg. seeing a doctor at their surgery.

Médecin correspondant

A doctor you are referred to by your médecin traitant.


A top-up health insurance policy to refund the part of costs not repaid by the state system. Technically only policies offered by non-profit-making organisations come under this term, but it is widely used for top-up policies in general. An alternative general term is une complémentaire santé.

Ordonnance Prescription Participation forfaitaire

A €1 charge paid on a visit to the doctor, prescriptions and other medical acts to fund research.

Protection Universelle Maladie (Puma) 

The principle by which anyone legally-resident in France long term may qualify for healthcare cover under the French system.


The refund paid by the state.

Suivi régulier 

Referral to a doctor you will see regularly.

Sécurité sociale 

A general term for several services for French residents, including state healthcare and pensions, but especially associated with health. The French may refer to a reimbursement from la Sécu. The healthcare branch is called l’Assurance Maladie.

Tarif de convention 

The agreed level of cost of a medical act of which the state refunds a percentage.

Ticket modérateur 

The part of the tarif de convention that is not state-reimbursed. 

Related articles

How to find a doctor who speaks good English in France 

Explainer: Paying to see a doctor or health specialist in France

How to get a social security number and carte Vitale in France

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