French News

Health in France

'Dependant' Spouses and S1 Health Cover

Tuesday 13 June 2017

'Dependant' spouses of those with a State retirement pension have the automatic right to health cover in France through the S1 certificate issued to their partner.

Whilst the UK remains a member of the EU those of State retirement age continue to have an entitlement to health cover in France via an S1, albeit the certificates are no longer being issued automatically with commencement of the State Retirement Pension; you now need to ring up the Pensions Office in Newcastle to obtain it.

A 'dependant' younger spouse of someone reaching State retirement age also has an entitlement to health cover granted under an S1 certificate from their country of origin. That same right also extends to other dependants in the household.

The definition of just what is regarded as being 'dependant' includes all those in a married relationship or in a civil partnership. Thus, even though your spouse may have an independent source of income, they would be admitted as a dependant.

Only in the case of those not married, or in a civil partnership, would it normally be necessary to prove financial dependency.

The decision as to who is dependant is not made by the French authorities, but by your country of origin. Some local health authorities in France have been known to contest dependency status, but the cases have been rare, and generally not upheld.

In the event that the holder of an S1 dies before their 'dependant' younger spouse reaches retirement age, then the surviving partner will continue to retain health cover through the S1 for 12 months.

However, use of this arrangement may not be necessary, as you would normally be granted automatic and permanent access into the French health system through 'accident of life' provisions.

You would be required to pay health contributions if you are not of retirement age, but these would be related to income, and those on a low income are entitled to free cover.

On this basis, a dependant younger spouse should always be able to obtain State health cover in France.

If one of the partners in a household is in business in France, while the other is retired and in receipt of a State Pension, then three possible scenarios open up, with the rules a little unclear and variably applied by local health authorities in France.

i. Mixed Cover - The most likely approach is for the retired partner to obtain cover through an S1, while the other partner continues to be affiliated to the health system through their business or employment.

ii. Joint S1 Cover - The second is that the local health authority accept both being insured through the S1. We consider this scenario unlikely (but not inconceivable) as the S1 is only for use by retired households living abroad in Europe.

iii. Business Cover - The third is where the local health authority in France insist that both be insured through the employment or business. However, it is questionable whether the French authorities would insist on this approach as it would not be financially advantageous for them to do so. With separate insurance cover for each partner, the one paid by the government of the S1 recipient and the other paid directly by the business owner, they obtain a higher financial contribution.

Related Reading:

For the latest in-depth analysis, subscribe to our news service at France Insider.

France Insider is a subscription-based offer which has replaced our previous free Newsletter.

Popular Articles