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Pre-Retirement Age Healthcare


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We have been considering a permanent move to France for some time, but our financial circumstances are not straightforward and that continues to delay the decision.

That aside, the one area that we cannot get a consistent answer is what our healthcare obligations would be if resident in France.

We are both retired, my wife being 62 and in receipt of UK State Pension. I am 59 and won't receive anything until I reach 66.

At the moment any treatment received whilst in France we pay for in full and reclaim from Newcastle.

What would be our need for "top-up" insurance if we do become French resident and are able to obtain Cartes Vitales?

We have never worked in France or paid French contributions of any kind.
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Your wife can get cover from an S1 form and you will be covered by her.

If you're receiving a UK state pension or long-term incapacity

benefit, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK. You will

need to apply for form S1 (or an E121 if you are moving to Iceland,

Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland), which you need to present to the

health authorities in your new country of residence. You will then be

treated on the same basis as a resident of that country.

Once you have registered your S1 (or E121) in your new country of

residence, you will be entitled to a UK-issued European Health Insurance

Card (EHIC), allowing you to access state-funded necessary medical

treatment when you visit other EEA countries besides the one in which

you are resident, including when you return to the UK.

It is advisable to check what is covered before leaving the UK and make arrangements if necessary.

Use the country-by-country guide and select a country from the list for detailed information.

For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (Newcastle):

International Pension Centre

Tyneview Park

Whitley Road

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE98 1BA

Phone 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday 8am-5pm)

Customers who receive a UK state pension can obtain an S2 (or E121) by phoning 0191 218 7777 (Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm).

Customers who receive a UK long-term incapacity benefit can obtain an

S2 (or E121) by telephoning the Working Age Group Incapacity Benefit

team on 0191 21 87644 (Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm).

The phone number for the Employment Support Allowance team is 0191 21 87037 (open Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm).

If at any time in the future you want to come back to the UK for

planned treatment, you must consult your new authorities to find out the

options available to you. However, you will be charged in the UK,

unless you can provide an S2 (or E112) issued by your country of


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Thank you Norman, that is really helpful.

We already have EHICs, which were renewed last year, so, on the face of it, when the time comes, all we need to do is apply for and register the S1 form.

Just noticed your reference to S2.......but can't quite see what the difference is to S1, unless it is the corresponding form for people already having left the UK?
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As long as one of you is in receipt of a UK pension, then you'll be issued with is the equivilent of the old E121. And the person who is not receiving a UK pension will piggy back onto the other's 'E121' health care.

Give Newcastle a call, they have always been helpful when I have called.

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[quote user="frexpt"]What would be our need for "top-up" insurance if we do become French resident ... [/quote]

Top-up health insurance is the subject of long and personal debate.

Some people who have numerous health problems or need a permanent regime of drugs usually benefit financially from having good cover.

Others who are in very good health take a Hospitalisation policy at lower cost ... just in case.

Yet others put aside into savings what they would have spent on a policy/policies again just in case.

You are not obliged to have one.

Average cost - depending on where you live - is very approximately 100 euros per month per couple for reasonable cover.

Hospitalisation cover only starts at around 20 euros per person per month.


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Unlike the NHS in the UK, French health care is not free at the point of delivery and the French government do not cover all the costs, which means that you need to take out top up insurance to cover the gap, which can be between 20% to 30% of the overall costs. Although top up insurance is not compulsory, with escalating medical costs, in my opinion one would be foolhardy not to have this insurance and as a foreigner would probably get little sympathy if you were struggling to pay your medical bills. The same applies if you are covered by an S1 or S2.

The good news is that insurers cannot deny you top up insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, although it is reported that taking out top up insurance for the first time over the age of seventy, is getting more difficult and expensive.

The other point of interest is that there are complaints that top up insurance is getting more expensive, as the French government tries to balance its books by shifting more of the cost of medical treatment onto the insurers! 

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Just a point, but your current EHIC's would become invalid as soon as you registered your S1 form(s) in France. The UK would issue you with new ones once they received the paperwork from the French confirming registration of your healthcare in France.  I was told by the Overseas Healthcare people at Newcastle that this can take up to a year, but if you had need to access care in the EU other than in France, you would simply ring them at the time and they would fax a confirmation of your healthcare rights to whichever surgery or hospital or clinic you were in at the time. 
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Make sure you cover all aspects, we moved out here on S1s generated by our contributions, valid for a maximum of 2 years, knowing my OH would reach retirement age before they ran out and I could piggyback on his S1. I am much younger than him but was confident that we would have been here for 5 years and therefore covered in my own right should anything happen to my OH. Unfortunately, we have only been here 2 and a half years and my OH has just passed away. Totally unexpected. So I am now in contact with CPAM, to see if I can stay "in the system".
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[quote user="powerdesal"]When Newcastle send the S1 they tell you to return your EHIC to them for destruction.[/quote]

I'm not saying that you are wrong but I don't understand why they would do that because they are responsible for issuing it to you.

I think for those applying for their first E121(S1) by dint of reaching UK state retirement age DWP will want confirmation from France that you are enrolled in their system before issuing an EHIC.

For those already in the French system, usually by dint of an earlier E106(S1), it may be different. I don't know for sure but will be finding out in due course later this year when my OH gets her pension and we transfer from my residual E106(S1) to her new E121(S1).

As I say though it's all a bit odd as the issuing of an S1 (of any flavour) is confirmation that UK is responsible for your health care and if so then you are entitled to an EHIC to use in other countries !

Whether you actually use your S1 to register for health care in another country seems irrelevant to that.

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powerdesal wrote:

When Newcastle send the S1 they tell you to return your EHIC to them for destruction.

I'm not saying that you are wrong but I don't understand why they would do that because they are responsible for issuing it to you.

I presume it's because the original EHIC issued is 'logged' as one issued to a UK resident and, on taking up residence in France they will need to issue another EHIC which the records will reflect the change of residence country.
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Don't know if that's the case or not.

I know my situation is a little different from most in that I had a workers E106 for about 5 years and as of September 2013 went onto a normal residual E106 which takes me to January 2014. In 2009 they issued us both with new 5 year EHIC's when our previous ones expired and haven't asked for them back so far.

OH collects her pension later this year so we'll see what happens then.

Having had several exchanges of correspondence with them both HMRC and DWP are fully aware that we are French resident so I see no reason or logic in having to prove it over again but that said since when did either dictate or govern the workings of government bodies ?

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[quote user="Jo"]When we became French resident we applied for and received new EHIC cards to use, I understand, should we need treatment on a visit to UK.[/quote]

Not just treatment in the UK, Jo, treatment in other EU countries too and I think that it's meant to be OK for Switzerland too as they have reciprocal health arrangements with EU countries.  Can't swear to the last one, it was something I was told but, fortunately, I didn't have to put it to the test [:)]

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Am I right in thinking that it is compulsory to have some form of health cover? I.e. if you are not covered by CPAM or one of the other state providers for at least the 65 percent, you HAVE to take out private health insurance? Whereas you don't have to take out the top up insurance?
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Technically yes, to be legally resident in France you must have health insurance but that said nobody is going to be knocking on your door to check whether you have it or not and I'm sure there are many living here who don't.

Risky though as an accident or illness when not insured could bankrupt you !

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