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French State Health Care for UK retirees under 65?


Daft Doctor

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Hi, hope someone may be able to answer my query:  My intention is to retire early from my job in the NHS when I'm 60 and I intend moving permanently to France soon after.  I will be in receipt of my NHS pension, but will be below state pension age of 65.  Will I be entitiled to French state healthcare benefits, and if so, do I pay contributions to the french system to continue this until I reach UK pension age (I realise that not all french state care is free and that top-up insurance is needed for about 30% of cost)?  I've read on this forum of forms E106 for UK employed/self-employed persons and of E121 for pensioners, but what documentation would be appropriate in my case??  As a GP I'm taxed under schedule D as self-employed, and pay Class 2 and Class 4 NI contributions.  I read that E106 can last for 5 years for self-employed persons (if that would be the appropriate form for me), but am not sure how being retired from work but below state pension age affects things?  Any help would be gratefully received and I apologise if this has been dealt with elsewhere on the forum (I couldn't find anything on a search).

Many Thanks  

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First of all, as a post-November 2007 resident in France, you will only be eligible to affiliate to the French state health system as long as you are covered by an E form. Otherwise you will need to take out private health assurance.

In your case you will be eligible for E121 once you reach UK state pensionable age. Depending on having a recent record of full NI contributions you will be eligible for E106. Normal validity of an E106 is a calendar year, and you nominally get two years' cover if you have a full NI contribution record (whether employed or self-employed, this is the same). So depending on the time you actually take up residence, your nominal two years could be almost three years, or it could be a little more than one year. The five-year E106 you have heard about is most likely what is known as a 'worker's E106' which is sometimes issued to those working overseas - as an 'inactive' person this would not apply to you.

So it looks as if you will need to budget for two or three years of private health cover to fill the gap between your E106 expiring and becoming eligible for E121.

As you correctly state, health cover is not free under the French system. You get roughly two-thirds refunded (70% of most consultations, 65% most medications, less a 1€ or 2€ 'franchise' [contribution]) - the rest can be funded out of your own pocket or through a top-up insurance. The latter is usually recommended because hospital bills can mount up, as I am sure you will know as a doctor.

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Unfortunately Will is wrong - those who have been self employed in UK only get a max of 12 months E106 and it would only be as long as that if you moved in a January.  It is to do with the rate of contributions which are lower than the employed contributions - Newc did explain it to me as I was self employed.  Newc will always tell you what your entitlement will be if you ring them with your NI number and give them a suggested date that you plan to move.
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I have not heard mention of a 5 year E106 nor does such a thing does not exist. I'm wondering if there is some cross confusion between E106's and the 5 year residency rule ?

A further point on the 'workers' E106. For those such as myself still employed in UK and paying full NI this is renewable annually on it's anniversary rather than by calendar year (just renewed mine last month in fact) and this will continue until I cease employment after which I will revert to the normal E106 which, as Will says, according to timing will cover me for the ensuing 2 years plus.

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I was wondering myself about the '5-year E106 for self-employed persons', as I had never heard of such a thing and couldn't find any reference to it. It seems even more dubious in this context if even a two-year E106 is not available to UK self-employed.

My guess is that the 'five years' could come from a source such as this: http://www.nhs.uk/Movingabroad/Pages/Workingabroad.aspx which certainly gives the impression that there is a five-year limit to issue of worker's E106/E101. I recall that when I had an E101 as a self-employed person, EU rules allowed a maximum five-year validity, but it had to be renewed on an annual basis (like Ernie's E106) subject to agreement between host and issuing states, and then both France (CLEISS) and UK (HMRC/DWP) operated a policy that two years was the normal maximum cover under E101. It appears from the above link that current policy, at least in UK, is to issue E101 for stays of one year or less, and a worker's E106 for over 2 years - stays of one or two years should be covered by a renewal of E101 as before.

Under E101 alone (i.e. no E106) you use the EHIC to access the French system (it used to be E128 when I had E101). This is further evidence that the EHIC, unlike the old E111, is not just for emergency treatment.

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Certainly Ernie

What I was looking at is in the section "Working abroad for over two years" where it says "If you are working abroad for two years or more (up to a maximum of five years)...". I know it doesn't specifically give a time limit for any E106 cover, but does infer that there could be a five year limit to the E-form cover you can get from UK when working overseas.

 

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[quote user="cheryla"]

When we moved to France in 2002 our E106's covered us for two years, having been self employed previously.

Unless things have changed I don't see why the OP couldn't get two years (providing they timed their move for January)[/quote]

My OH was self-employed and he was eventually given cover for 6 months when we arrived in  2005. Though I do think some of that was due to his lack of attention to detail (re Jan and all that) and, all things being equal, we could have enjoyed, perhaps, 12 months of E106 cover if things had been different. But 2 years cover, not a chance in 2005 ... even though he was fully paid up etc etc and had been after nearly 12 years of self-employment.

Sue [8-)]

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Thank you Will, I see it now but I think it relates more to people who are UK employed but living and performing their job in another country.

I wonder if there is an EU wide directive which dictates that, like in France, after 5 years residence in another EU country you are entitled to health cover from that country hence no need for an E106 ?

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The confusion about the life of an E106 for a self-employed person might come from the fact that a lot of 'self-employed' are actually employees of their own Ltd company, as I am. In my case I have been paying full employee's contributions for the last 8 years so if I were looking for an E106 I'd expect to get the 'about 2 years' treatment. For a sole trader with no Ltd then the situation may very well follow different rules.
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