France is to relax its rules on the admission of expat early retirees into the French health system.The change of policy has come about after pressure from the European Commission, who consider France is in breach of EU regulations by requiring early retirees to have five years residence before they can obtain health cover.
As a result the French Ministry of Health is to issue new guidance on the right of access to the health system.
Cristina Arigho, the EU Spokesperson for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, told us that 'we expect a circular to be issued by the French government before the summer break.’
The aim of the new circular will be to bring France into line with European Regulation 883/2004, which governs the coordination of health and social security systems throughout the EC.
She stated that once the circular was issued ‘the Commission would then close the infringement.’
‘However’, she continued, ‘we will monitor closely the application of the new circular.’
Regular readers of our Newsletter will be aware that last June we reported that the EU Commission considered France may be in breach of the regulations by denying inactive early retirees’ access to the health system through the CMU until they had completed five years residence.
At the time Cristina Arigho told us that the European Commission was in discussion with the French authorities to clarify the 2007 decree concerning the Couverture Maladie Universelle and was analysing its compatibility with European law.
She stated that ‘the Commission is working on a solution that would allow UK pre-retired person’s access to health coverage. This involves close cooperation with the French authorities to examine the French rules in place and seeing whether they are in line with Community legislation.'
The November 2007 decree denied economically inactive expat early retirees access to the French health system through the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU).
As a result, since this date anyone relocating to France under the age of retirement has been obliged to take out private health insurance on the expiry of their E106 (now S1) cover, or take employment/self-employment in order to then obtain health insurance cover.
Only when inactive early retirees have completed 5 years legal residence are they permitted to affiliate to the health system, although there are some limited exceptions for 'accidents de vie'.
Affiliation to the CMU costs 8% of your net income above a minimum threshold, but is available free of charge to those on a low income.
Until details of the new circular are published it remains unclear on what payment basis early retirees will be granted health cover, just what other terms may be imposed, and whether those on a low income will be entitled to free health cover. It was the abuse by some expats of the free cover concession that led to the clampdown in 2007.
The French Ministry of Health have confirmed to us in writing that a new government circular will indeed be issued this summer.
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