A question I get a lot from students coming to France is whether or not you REALLY have to pay social security twice.

If you’re coming to France both as a student in a master’s program AND a language assistant (TAPIF), it doesn’t really make sense that you have to pay for coverage both as a student and as an assistant, since you’re covered as one or the other.

This problem is especially troublesome if you’re also an American under 26 – and thus covered on your parents’ insurance as well.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to get around paying for health insurance twice.

When you enroll in a university in France, you have to sign up for student health insurance on the spot if you’re under 28.

(If you’re over 28, congratulations – you don’t have to pay for student health insurance, but if you’re not working for TAPIF, you should check out how to get health insurance in France).

With the student health insurance, you’re covered from October 1 through September 30 of the following year, regardless of whether you turn 28 during that time or stop your studies.

In the acceptance package you receive from the school, one of the papers you receive will be an “Attestation d’Assurance Maladie,” which appears as though it will exempt you from paying the student health fee. However, you’re only eligible if you meet one important condition:

– You must be covered by another French mutuelle for the complete period of October 1 – September 30.

Unfortunately, the TAPIF contract is 7 to 9 months, meaning that it doesn’t meet the criteria of providing you with a full year of coverage.

Even if you’re a lecteur d’anglais, whose generous contract runs from September 1 through August 31, you still end up missing the complete coverage period by just one month.

Unless you’re over 28 or have a CDI when you arrive in France, you’re not going to be able to get out of paying the student health fee.

On the bright side, it’s only about €215, for one year of health coverage. Health insurance doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

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