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The French healthcare system: how to practise as a doctor

Pauline Jxxx
by Pauline Jxxx Read time : 2min
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Have a medical degree from France or elsewhere? Want to practise as a doctor in France? There are many things to consider, including how you’re going to work, which organisation type to choose and your pay. But first, you need to understand the French healthcare system and go through the following questions.

How should you work?

The first thing to think about when you want to become a practitioner in France is how best to work. There are various options depending on your situation:

  • If you're a young medical graduate at the start of your career and wanting to initially work in a specific region for personal reasons, with a view to changing region in the medium or long term, it could be best to become a locum or freelance doctor.
  • If you’re a foreign practitioner moving to France, the most reassuring and stable solution to start with could be a full-time salaried contract.
  • If you have several solid years of experience as a salaried doctor, you may prefer to become a private practitioner to give yourself more flexibility. You can decide whether to work in collaboration or in association with other doctors.

Which organisation type is best?

Whatever your speciality (general medicine, surgery, ophthalmology, etc.), it's important to choose the right kind of organisation for you.

  • A doctor’s surgery, as a private practitioner
  • A health centre, as a collective setup
  • Insurance company
  • Medical facility (hospital, clinic, etc.)
  • Humanitarian organisation
  • A&E
  • Different organisations will suit different situations and aspirations.

  What is the pay?

To calculate your future pay as a doctor, you must be aware of the various practitioner statuses. The calculation also differs between salaried doctors and private practitioners.

Salaried doctors

Salaried doctors can receive fixed remuneration or a percentage amount (pre-agreed with the employer) based on their turnover.

Private practitioners

Private practitioners should look up the statistics about non-commercial benefits (BNC) for private practitioners corresponding to net income in the relevant specialty. This revenue will be subject to invoicing for procedures under the convention chosen when you start working in private practice (Sector 1, 2, or 3).

  • Sector 1

Sector 1 is the most common in the medical community. It guarantees resource stability and easy access. The State Health Insurance Office (CPAM) also encourages young doctors to choose this sector.
This status exclusively allows you to charge limited general medicine appointment fees from €1 to €25. You cannot go above this. N.B. Choosing Sector 1 is an irreversible decision.

  • Sector 2

This sector allows for fee surcharges. However, these must be calculated with “tact and restraint” (according to Article 53 of the French Code of Ethics).
Patients who are billed for fee surcharges can only access a reimbursement base of 25 euros (to which the amount provided for by the insurance is added).

  • Sector 3

This sector outside the conventional system allows practitioners to choose any pricing. Patients are reimbursed using an “authority” tariff by their health insurance (€0.61 for a general medical appointment and €1.22 for a specialist consultation).

Want some support with starting up as a doctor in France? Or help with your specific issues and approaches? Contact us!

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