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Why you are going to pay more for prescriptions in France

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Why you are going to pay more for prescriptions in France
Patients in France are set to receive less reimbursement for prescribed medicine from January 2024. (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP)

The French government plans to double the fee that patients pay per box of prescribed medication starting in January 2024.


If you are covered by social security system in France, you can receive partial or total reimbursement for prescribed medicine that you buy at a pharmacy.

However, starting in 2024, patients may see their reimbursements decrease as the French government increases the 'franchise médicales' fee.

In France, when you pay at the counter, you are asked to swipe your carte vitale and information about your purchase is stored, analysed and then used to send the reimbursement directly to your bank account.

READ ALSO How to get a carte vitale in France and why you need one

The amount you are reimbursed depends on what kind of medication you have been prescribed - generally speaking, medication for more serious conditions is reimbursed at a higher rate. Only flu jabs for those deemed 'at-risk' are reimbursed without a prescription. There is no limit on the total amount of money you can be reimbursed over the course of a year. 

Patient fees 

A small fee, known as the franchise médicale, is charged to patients who have their medication costs reimbursed through the social security system. 

This currently stands at €0.50 and is deducted from the reimbursed amount that is eventually send into your bank account the the Assurance maladie

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If, for example, you buy a prescribed pack of medicine for €20 and it is reimbursed at a rate of 65 percent, you will only receive €12.50. This is because 65 percent of €20 is €13 and a further €0.50 is deducted from your reimbursement as part of the franchise médicale

The franchise médicale fees are currently limited at a total of €50 per person, per year. 

Minors, pregnant women and low-income patients benefitting from extra state support for health costs (like the Complémentaire Santé Solidaire and the Aide Médicale d'État) are exempt from paying the franchise médicale.


In the vast majority of cases, even if you have a mutuelle (private top-up health insurance), you are still subject to the franchise médicale. Most private insurers will not reimburse the cost of this fee.

READ ALSO What you need to know about a mutuelle

So what is changing? 

From January 1st 2024, franchise médicale fees will double from €0.50 to €1. But the €50 cap on the total amount of franchise médicale fees that someone can be charged over the course of a year will remain in place - as will the exemptions for minors, pregnant women etc. 

This means that if you buy that prescribed box of medicine for €20 (see previous section), you will now be reimbursed €12 instead of €12.50. 

READ ALSO 11 things you can do at a French pharmacy

The government hopes that this measure will bring in an extra 600 million per year - a sum that it says is vital to help address the €7 billion deficit faced by the Assurance Maladie. They also believe the franchise will discourage the unnecessary over-consumption of medicine. 



Various patient groups have voiced their opposition to the measure.

France Assos Santé, one of the largest patients' associations in the country, issued a statement titled 'Increase to the franchise médicale?... No way'. 

"Once again it is the sick who are going to bear the brunt, even though taking medication is not a choice but an absolutely vital necessity! Chronically ill people with long-term conditions are supposed to be covered for 100 percent of their care are not exempt from deducted reimbursement and are already the ones who are most out-of-pocket when it comes to healthcare expenses," they wrote. 


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