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Caisse des Français de l’Étranger: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

The Caisse des Français de l’Étranger (CFE) program has been evolving for nearly half a century to safeguard the health of French nationals residing abroad. As 2024 begins, the French Legislature has implemented various changes to ensure the program remains resilient in this ever-changing world.

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The key changes in this year’s policy are the increase in prices and adjustments in coverage zones due to global inflation and economic recession that have had a wide impact on the medical industry, leaving its members with questions regarding their contribution and eligibility for coverage.

If you’re also a French expat wondering about the changes in your CFE policy and what to do next, this Pacific Prime Thailand article has got you covered with everything you need to know about this social security system.

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What is Caisse des Français de l’Étranger?

Established in 1978 by the Legislature, the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger (CFE) has been providing coverage for French citizens and some European Union citizens living outside of their home country and not currently receiving benefits from the French Social Security regime for nearly 50 years.

The program offers coverage in three main categories, which are:

  • Illness, maternity, disability;
  • Work accidents and work-related illness;
  • The social security retirement fund managed by the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse.

Three people crossing a street in France

The program covers various groups of people, including:

  • Salaried employees of French or non-French companies;
  • Non-salaried workers such as artists, farmers, and freelancers;
  • Students studying overseas under 28 years of age on the date of enrollment;
  • Retirees receiving at least one basic French retirement pensions and have made a minimum of 20 quarterly contributions;
  • Unemployed individuals, including welfare recipients, those receiving workman’s compensation and disability allowance, widows, divorced individuals, and those separated from an uninsured person.

The children of an insured expat are eligible for coverage until they reach the age of 20, while the spouse or common-law partner can be covered if they’re entirely and permanently dependent on the insured and living in the same household.

This implies that the spouse should be unemployed and not covered by any mandatory French or other social security regime. Please note that the terms and conditions are subject to change, so it’s best to directly contact the CFE to confirm your eligibility.

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What Are Contributions for Caisse des Français de l’Étranger?

CFE members must pay money to the program according to their income. This amount of money is known as a contribution. French citizens with annual incomes below EUR €14,112 are subsidized by three contribution payments, but the contribution rates are set to see a sharp increase in 2024.

What Are the Changes to Caisse des Français de l’Étranger in 2024?

The prolonged global inflation in 2023 has impacted not only business sectors but also healthcare, leading to increased costs for CFE contributions and reduced coverage areas. While the exact price changes haven’t been finalized, you can learn more about these adjustments below.

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What Are the Changes to Contribution Prices of the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger Program in 2024?

The CFE experienced a financial imbalance of EUR €6 million due to insufficient contributions in 2023, leading to a reevaluation of member contribution rates. The exact rate increase hasn’t yet been defined, but the contribution rates have already risen by 6.7% since April 1, 2023.

Despite the uncertainty, the program has implemented two changes:

  1. The contribution rate for French expats was increased by 10% in October 2023.
  2. There are no longer 5% discounts for senior members as of January 2024.

People walking in a French street with shops

What Are the Changes to Coverage Areas of the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger Program in 2024?

The CFE has also readjusted their zones of coverage in 2024. The program categorizes countries into five zones based on the level of coverage the program can offer. With Thailand being moved from Zone 2 to Zone 3, expats living in the country will receive lower reimbursements than before.

The CFE program reimburses medical and emergency expenses through either a lump sum or a percentage of the total cost. While lump sum payments for certain treatments, such as childbirth care and consultation, remain consistent across all coverage zones, the percentages vary based on the designated zones.

With the 2024 adjustment, many countries have been moved to lower zones, resulting in reduced coverage percentages for various treatments, including but not limited to:

Zone readjustment Name(s) of the country(ies) being moved in 2024 Percentage change for inpatient coverage including ambulance fee* Percentage change for chemotherapy* Percentage change for radiotherapy*
Zone 1 to Zone 2
  • Bahrain
  • New Caledonia
  • Philippines
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
From 67% to 50% From 80% to 60% From 87% to 69%
Zone 2 to Zone 3
  • Angola
  • Lebanon
  • Thailand
From 50% to 42% From 60% to  40% From 69% to 52%
Zone 3 to Zone 4
  • Austria
From 42% to 31% From 40% to 35% From 52% to 44%
Zone 4 to Zone 5
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
From 31% to 19% From 35% to 20% From 44% to 32%

*Please note that the percentages in the table above are based on 2023 rates. The actual rates for 2024 have not yet been announced and may vary once the Legislature has made an official announcement.

The Eiffel Tower along a river full of boats

What Are My Alternative Options After the Caisse des Français de l’Étranger Program Lowers My Coverage in 2024?

French expats living in countries with lower coverage and higher contribution fees like Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are encouraged to find alternative coverage from international private medical insurance providers for a more certain and cost-effective solution.

Finding a plan that best matches your needs and budgets among the thousands of plans available in the market, however, can be challenging, especially without guidance from an entity with extensive experience in the insurance industry like Pacific Prime.

Pacific Prime Thailand’s insurance experts have been helping expats worldwide transfer between providers, liaise with regulators, and source out the most suitable plans for over 20 years. As an insurance broker, we’re committed to staying impartial and offering you what’s best for your interests.

If you’re ready to explore your health insurance options, we’re more than happy to provide you with an obligation-free quote and a free plan comparison service. We’re looking forward to helping you continue your expatriate journey without worrying about unforeseen medical bills. Contact us today!

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Content Writer at Pacific Prime Thailand
Natthachamon Suthana Komalrachun is a Content Writer with a strong passion in creative writing and marketing communications. Working with the team of experienced creators at Pacific Prime, she aims to use the magic of communication to simplify insurance and enchant every reader in our diverse society where insurance and employee benefits act as a life and financial stronghold for everyone—individuals and businesses alike.

After graduating at the top of her class and earning her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Thammasat University, Natthachamon has been practicing her writing skills and making education more easily accessible for Thai children as an Educational Content Creator and English Curriculum Developer for various educational facilities and organizations across the country.

Natthachamon is also a mother of two cats, a board game enthusiast, and a big bookworm who enjoys everything and anything sweet.