How to see a doctor if you cannot sign up with GP in France

You can still get treatment but will not be reimbursed the same as with a médecin traitant

Finding a médecin traitant, or attending physician can be a challenge
Published Last updated

The médecin traitant (GP) is your primary health provider in France but in many areas, particularly rural and semi-rural ones, their availability is limited.

In 2020, 5.4million people are reported as not having access to a médecin traitant and the problem of how to attract doctors to many areas remains.

We look at what to do if you are struggling to register with a GP.

Once you have registered for healthcare in France and have a carte Vitale, the next step is to find a médecin traitant.

This doctor is considered your personal physician, who will track your health over the years and coordinate your care with specialists.

In theory, your médecin traitant could be a specialist doctor you see on a regular basis for a specific illness but in most cases it is a GP.

Visits to these doctors are 70% reimbursed by the French healthcare system. Much of the remainder can be covered by a mutuelle top-up health insurance if you have one.

In addition, if your médecin traitant is absent, or if you need to consult another doctor while in another region, the 70% reimbursement rate stays the same.

Read more: Explainer: Why having a designated GP in France saves you money

However, for many people, particularly those in a medical desert, simply finding a GP ready to take on new long-term patients is a challenge.

What to do if you are struggling to find amédecin traitant?

You will need to inform the healthcare system that you are having difficulty finding a GP. The way to do this is as follows:

1. Go to the Doctolib website. This is essentially a search engine for medical professionals where you can book appointments with nearby doctors.

It also tells you which doctors offer video consultations, what their specialisations are, and which accept new patients as a médecin traitant.

A similar, albeit less useful, search engine is available on the official Amélie website.

2. Use the Doctolib search function to identify all of the doctors in your area who accept new patients.

Bear in mind that you probably have to search in a wider area than you would like.

3. Call the doctors, or better still, visit them. Ask them to be your médecin traitant, and if they refuse ask for their reasons. Usually, it will be that they already have too many patients.

4. Record that information on this form, called Difficultés d'accès à un médecin traitant (Difficulty in finding a GP).

5. Once the form is complete, send it - along with a brief covering letter - by recorded post to your regional Cpam (Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie).

This process should result in the regional health authority either identifying another potential médecin traitant for you or in some cases asking doctors to reconsider their decision.

What if you need to see a doctor immediately?

Use the Doctolib website to find a doctor that accepts patients without an appointment. If there are none in your area, then contact any doctor in your area.

If you are ill and need treatment, doctors are obligated to see you or to tell you where you can get care.

In such cases go to a GP’s surgery, a health centre or a hospital and make your situation clear.

As stated in Article R.4127-9 of the code of medical deontology:

“Any doctor who is in the presence of, or informed about, a person who is suffering, injured or in danger, must give them assistance or ensure that they receive the necessary care.”

At night, you can either go to the Médecin de garde, on-call medical centres, or to the hospital.

To find out where the Médecin de garde is in your region call 116 117.

You can also use one of the growing number of video consultation booths in pharmacies, which are reimbursed as a normal consultation with a GP.

Read more: Steep rise in use of medical video-chat booths in French pharmacies

How much does it cost to see a doctor without a médecin traitant?

It costs the same price to see a GP who is not your médecin traitant, however the level of reimbursement is not the same.

For a €26.50 consultation, the Assurance Maladie will reimburse you 30%, or €6.95.This compares to €17.55 for a consultation with your médecin traitant.

The prices at a Médecin de garde are higher:

  • From 20:00 to 0:00: €42.50
  • From 0:00 to 6:00: €51.50

If you have a médecin traitant, these costs are reimbursed at 70%. Without one, you are only reimbursed 30%.

Read more:

Doctors’ fees go up in France – and could rise again

How to get a weekend or out-of-hours doctor’s appointment in France