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Limitations on the use of an EHIC card

Tony F Dordogne

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I've been looking through more of the information that I received yesterday on EHIC cards and the changes to the system and usage of them and have found the following, which may effect people who think that they can use their UK issued EHIC card sort of willy-nilly instead of getting into the French health care system.

"The UK, in their NHS Overseas Visitors Hospital Charge Regulations, place a 3 month cumulative 'capping' in respect of 'active' citizens in any 12 month period. although there are derogations of up to 6 months for those in receipt of their State pension"


However, "this breaches Community law since one (country) is not permitted to impose any limitations as to periods of validity with regard to temporary stay in another relevant State , especially where a citizens right  of free movement would be impinged and the EHIC comes to us in proper accordance with Community law and where we there is already case law upon which to rely, with regard to residency."


So broadly, if you use the card when early retired for a period of over 3 months in one year - UNDER CURRENT LEGISLATION - you may end up getting billed for it.  However, the European Parliament are dealing with this anomoly and under the freedom of movement legislation, it is due to be changed.


There is also a definition of what the EHIC covers, namely necessary treatment:


"The interpretation of all necessary treatment, is treatment which will allow you to complete your temporary stay in another Member State in comfort and without any medically related impediment, which would arise, were you not to receive such necessary treatment. Treatment cannot be delayed or otherwise postponed upon the basis that you could receive such treatment in your State of residence on your return."


which may help some of the enquirers who ask about cover for visiting relatives.  There are no plans to change this definition because it is already in line with other EU countries.


Country of residence is also defined:


"The definition of residence adopted by the Commission is not a finite definition and indeed, for the purposes of the social chapter of the EU it accords with English Common law, last define by the House of Lords in 1982 as  being where you have your usual abode, where you have your settled way of life, even though you may be absent for periods, it is the place you intend to return to, the place you regard as your home."


which may also help in the European context.


More to follow as I get to grips with the material.

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  • 3 weeks later...
My Dad and I who are on temporary Carte Vitales asked CPAM whether we needed to surrender our English EHIC card and apply for a French one and we were told we didn't need a French one. Is this true or will the French not issue one unless you are either on a permenant Carte Vitale (i.e. retirement age) or working and paying into the French system?

My mum turned 60 this year and she was told to apply for a French EHIC card and return the English one to Newcastle.

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You do not surrender or exchange one EHIC for another, rather your

circumstance dictate which country is responsible for it's issue.

In simple terms a UK EHIC is appropriate and applicable where you are under an E106 when UK is the so called 'competent state' and is paying for your health care under the EHIC scheme.

Once a person reaches retirement age, like your mum for instance, they come under an E121 and France becomes the 'competent state' responsible for their care and therefore also responsible for issuance of the EHIC.

 Note that unlike UK where an EHIC can be valid for up to 5 years the French one usually has to be renewed annually.

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