Doctor’s surgeries/offices in France are privately established and doctors work as individuals or as part of a group. Depending on what healthcare insurance you have in France will affect how much treatment will cost since you pay first and are reimbursed according to your insurance.
To ensure that you get the fullest reimbursement for your health costs it is necessary to register with a primary doctor (médecins traitant) Although you can go to any doctor that you like, your medical fees will be higher as you will not be entitled to top level reimbursement without a primary médecins traitant. The primary doctor will be able to conduct general practitioner consultations and if necessary refer you for specialist treatment elsewhere.
Children under the age of 16 can go to any doctor at any time without penalty.
To register with a Doctor in France you will need to complete a form that the doctor’s surgery (office) will provide. When complete, return it to your doctor who will register with the local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (commonly known as CPAM in France).
If you prefer you can download a form called a Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant from the Assurance Maledie on ligne website, complete this and take it to the Doctor of your choice for registering with CPAM. Doctors are not obliged to accept you as a patient and they are allowed to discontinue accepting you as a patient if they choose.
In France it is quite common for family members to have different doctors though generally children will be registered with a doctor of one or other parents.
If you want to change your doctor – simply repeat the process and have the new form registered with CPAM.
For dentist, optician, gynaecologist and optician – you should register direct, there is no need for a referral from your doctor.
You will find that in larger cities there are English speaking doctors and even in rural areas many doctors speak a little English since it is taught at schools.
You can easily find a doctor online and Pages Jaunes (the French yellow pages) is very helpful – in the key word section “Quoi, Qui” type in “médécin” and specify the area where you are searching.
Neighbours and friends are also useful sources for finding a doctor as is the local Town Hall (Mairie).