Before you leave, it is important that you contact the other country's national contact points to get all the information you need to ensure that your cross-border care goes forward smoothly.
Before you decide to seek health care in another country
You will need to:
- find out about your entitlement to coverage of cross-border health care
- be aware of the financial implications and the requirements for coverage of your expenses
- check how much of your health care expenses will be out-of-pocket (all of your expenses or the flat-rate charge known as the "ticket modérateur", travel expenses, and the costs of translating your medical files)
- know whether a prior authorization for care is required
- learn from your primary care physician about the treatment you wish to receive and about the health care professional or facility you will be contacting
- check whether you will be required to follow a specific healthcare pathway (compulsory appointment with a general practitioner in order to access a specialist physician)
- assess your need for private travel insurance or supplementary health insurance (coverage for expenses in private facilities, medical transport or repatriation, etc.).
Before you travel to another country for treatment
You will need to:
- learn about your rights to informed consent
- have your medical file transferred to your chosen health care provider in the foreign country and have it translated if necessary
- consider the possible need for an interpreter during meetings with health care professionals in France
- set up follow-up treatment when you come back to ensure continuity of care.
During your treatment in a foreign country
You will need to:
- have your health care provider add your diagnosis, test results, treatment results, list of pharmaceuticals administered, post-op results, etc. to your medical file, either in writing or electronically
- gather and secure all of the documents you will need to submit to the health fund to which you belong to apply for reimbursement.
Following treatment in a foreign country
- You are entitled to pay the same fees for health care as those insured in the country in which you receive care.
- You will need to make sure to get prescriptions that are in line with the applicable regulations so that they can be used in your State of residence when you go home.
- You will need to have your medical records transferred once they have been added to by your healthcare provider in the foreign country.
How to access your medical records?
All individuals have the right to access any information pertaining to their health that, for any reason, is in the possession of a health professional or facility, if that information appears among the professional's or facility's records or in written communications between health care professionals. This includes test results, appointment, surgical, exploratory, or hospitalization reports, treatment protocols and prescriptions that have been implemented, follow-up reports, and correspondence between health care professionals.
The patient can access this information either in person or through their physician, and is entitled to access it within a maximum of eight days following the request, and at the earliest following a forty-eight hour waiting period. The maximum turnaround time is two months for medical information that is more than five years old. The patient's request to access their medical record must be submitted by registered letter with return receipt.
In-person access is free of charge. If the applicant want photocopies of their information, however it is stored, they cannot be charged more than the cost of photocopying or any postal fees.
If a private-practice professional (doctor or dentist) denies the patient access to his or her medical file, the patient can:
- appeal to the medical or dental association ("Conseil départemental de l'ordre professionnel") that covers the doctor's or dentist's place of residence (addresses are available online) or
- apply for interim relief before the judge known as the "juge des référés" of the district court "Tribunal de grande instance" with jurisdiction over the practitioner's office location.
However, the patient must apply to the “Commission d'accès aux documents administratifs/ Cada”) (Committee for access to administrative documents) if denied access by:
- a public facility (such as a public hospital)
- or a private facility that is part of France's public hospital services (such as a nonprofit clinic)
attaching a copy of their request to access their record, the facility's denial, and the information needed to identify the file, to their submission. By phone: +33 (0)1 42 75 79 99 – By mail: 35 rue Saint-Dominique, 75700 Paris 07 SP – By email: email@example.com
You have a two-month deadline to apply to Cada following a denial or failure to reply.
Cada then has a one-month deadline to notify you of its opinion. If the facility fails to comply with this opinion (continued denial of access), Cada can bring action before the administrative court ("le tribunal administratif") for ultra vires.
The French Justice Ministry's website lists contact information to help you find the appropriate administrative court by entering the name of the town in which the provider is located.