Reader Question: Is acupuncture (and are other alternative therapies) reimbursed in France and, if so, do I have to see my GP first?
Alternative or complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, are known in France as pratiques de soins non conventionnelles.
The health ministry acknowledges that such therapies can ease some symptoms without any ill-effects, but it says there is not enough proof that all are effective.
It also warns that some alternative therapies can even be harmful if used instead of traditional medication or treatment.
As a result, they are mostly not recognised as equivalent to conventional treatments and their costs are not, therefore, always reimbursed by the state system.
However, some exceptions do exist.
What alternative therapies are covered?
The ministry recognises acupuncture’s effectiveness against certain types of chronic pain and nausea.
You can be state-reimbursed if you have this administered by a doctor, dentist or midwife who has been trained to do so.
There is no state reimbursement if you see an acupuncturist who is not also a medical professional.
You can look for a health professional with the term acupuncteur here.
Reimbursement is on the basis of a consultation fee, for example, 70% of a standard €25 GP consultation.
There is no state reimbursement for any dépassements (additional fees that some doctors are allowed to charge).
You must be in the usual ‘health pathway’, meaning you will obtain only a 30% reimbursement if the doctor is not your own GP or you were not referred with a prescription for the sessions from your GP.
If you obtain reimbursement, then top-up insurance can repay some or all of the rest, depending on your policy.
Hypnotherapy and homeopathy work in the same way.
However, homeopathic medicines are no longer reimbursed by the state.
Prices charged for therapies vary and state reimbursement is not always available.
Some top-up health insurance policies do offer a flat rate amount per year towards alternative therapies even where there was no state reimbursement, so you should check your policy.