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Health in France

UK Early Retirees to Lose S1 Health Cover

Tuesday 08 October 2013

The British government is proposing to cease offering health cover in France to early retirees.

In a consultation document published recently, the government has stated that it is proposing to end the issue of S1 certificates of health entitlement to early retirees who relocate abroad within the EEA.

The S1 form (formerly known as E106/E121) enables early retirees to obtain temporary access to the health system in their new country of residence.

They are used throughout the EEA in order to ease mobility and the transition into the health care system of the new host country.

Eligibility to an S1 by an early retiree is currently subject to their recent national insurance record, and is only available for a limited duration of a maximum of two and half years.

At the end of this period an early retiree needs to make their own arrangements for health cover, either through the State system of their host country, or through a private health cover policy.

France currently denies health cover to early retirees until they have completed 5 years legal residence.

The UK government states that they propose to withdraw entitlement with effect from 1st April 2014.

They say that they are doing so as ‘these payments to our citizens exceed our obligations under EU law’‘ and that 'the UK is the only Member State to make such payments.'

The government considers they could save around £4 million per year by removing the entitlement.

The proposal forms part of a wider review of access to the health system in the UK by migrants, in which the government proposes to tighten up access to the health system by non-EEA migrants, as well as improve recovery of costs from migrants within the EEA.

Those of state retirement age are also entitled to an S1 for an unlimited duration, but it is not proposed to make any change to their entitlement, which the government accepts is covered by European regulations.

At this stage there has been no public comment from the European Commission on these proposals.

European regulations state that an S1 is a 'certificate of entitlement to healthcare if you don't live in the country where you are insured.' However, it is a generic form and there is no uniform approach across Europe on the precise rules governing entitlement to an S1, except for those of pensionable age.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to see how the UK could withdraw entitlement to an S1 for early retirees without also affecting the temporary rights of those relocating abroad to seek employment.

In view of the enormous importance of this proposal to those of you planning to relocate permanently to France as early retirees we shall be following this story with close interest over the coming months.

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