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What you need to know about France’s new fees for emergency medical treatment

From January 1st, France will introduce a new fee for treatment at hospital emergency departments know as the forfait patient urgences (FPU) - here's how it works.

What you need to know about France's new fees for emergency medical treatment
Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP

The forfait patient urgences (emergency patient fee) is a new flat fee of €18 for treatment in hospital A&E departments. It was originally intended to be introduced from September 1st, but has now been postponed until January 1st, 2022.

Here’s how it works.

Who is charged?

The fee applies to anyone who receives treatment at an A&E or emergency room in a French hospital and is not admitted to hospital afterwards. So it would apply to people with less serious conditions that need treatment but don’t require a stay in hospital such as being patched up from an injury or getting on-the-spot treatment like an anaphylactic injection for an allergic reaction.

It is charged to everyone, French or non-French, residents or tourists.

However there are some groups who are exempt – child victims of abuse, victims of a terror attack and people treated during a declared health emergency (such as a pandemic).

Women who are more than six months pregnant, newborn babies, military veterans, those on invalidity benefits and people with a long-term illness or medical condition are charged at a reduced rate of €8.

People who have more serious problems that require admission to hospital are charged depending on the treatment they need and the length of their hospital stay.

Can I get reimbursed?

The standard model for medical treatment in France – whether it is getting a prescription at the pharmacy, visiting the doctor or getting hospital treatment – is that you pay up front and then some or all of the cost is reimbursed to you.

How you are refunded for the FPU, however, depends on where you live and what level of medical cover you have.

French residents – if you live in France you would usually be registered in the French medical system and have a carte vitale – if you have not already done this, here is about to go about it. In most cases, the State refunds a proportion of the cost of treatment, usually around 80 percent. The remaining costs are either paid by the patient or by their mutuelle.

A mutuelle is private health cover that most French people have, which picks up the rest of your medical costs (depending on your cover level) so that you don’t end up out of pocket if you fall ill. They are a lot cheaper than UK private medical insurance (and in a different league to health insurance in the US) and if you are an employee, your employer must pay at least half of the cost – find out how to get a mutuelle here.

The FPU is different in that none of it is covered by the carte vitale, but virtually all mutuelle providers will reimburse the cost in full. So whether you end up €18 down after a trip to the ER depends on whether you have a mutuelle.

Visitors from the EU – if you are resident in an EU country and registered in their health system you are entitled to use the European Health Insurance Card, which reimburses costs for medical treatments should you fall ill abroad. You pay the FPU up front and will have the money reimbursed to you. As a general point, travellers are reminded that the European card is not a substitute for travel insurance and will not cover everything. It almost never covers the cost of repatriation.

Visitors from the UK – since Brexit, UK residents are no longer covered by the EHIC, although people who have an existing card can use it until it expires. The UK is bringing in a new system known as GHIC to cover medical costs abroad. UK nationals who are resident in France can still register with the French health system for a carte vitale, if they haven’t already.

Visitors from outside the EU – Visitors from non-EU countries do not benefit from French or European health cover and will have to pay the FPU upfront and then claim back costs via their travel insurance or health insurance.

In good news, French hospitals are required by law to treat people in medical need, so you cannot be turned away from an emergency department if you need treatment, but you may end up with a bill for the treatment that you do get.

Why the change?

There is already a cost attached to treatment in A&E departments but it varies more depending on the type of treatment received. The standard fee for emergency department attendance is €25, plus a fee for treatment, of which 80 percent of the cost is reimbursed by the State. The remaining 20 percent is covered by some mutuelle schemes, but not all. Patients who do not have a mutuelle pay the remaining cost themselves.

The aim is to streamline the system and make a simple flat fee applicable to everyone.

Any other charges to be aware of?

Yes, if you need a stay in hospital or admission to a ward for extra treatments or further investigation – such as MRI scans or blood tests – you will be charged for those. For residents, most of the cost will be covered by the carte vitale, visitors will need to claim on their respective insurance.

The standard charge for a hospital stay (excluding treatments) is €20 per day, or €15 per day for a psychiatric hospital. There are exemptions to this including pregnant women, newborn babies and victims of terror attacks.

If you need to call an ambulance the callout itself is free but you may be charged for the trip to hospital. Being taken to hospital by the pompiers (emergency fire and rescue workers who have extensive medical training and are regularly called to incidents such as car crashes or falls) is free but prank calls to emergency services can lead to a fine of more than €400.

READ ALSO What to do if you have a medical emergency in France

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7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “” or “

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.