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Health in France

Slow Progress on French Health Cover Registrations

Friday 15 February 2008

The wheels of bureaucracy move in a very ‘Gradgrind’ manner in France, as local health authorities await news from the Ministry of Health as to who is, and who is not, now eligible to receive health cover in France.

The answer is a very clear one, as published in early December on the Government web site of the Sécurité socialeanyone legally resident in France as at 23rd November 2007 is entitled to affiliate.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health have been slow in communicating the detailed administrative rules to local officials, with the result that many of them have continued to insist that early retirees need to take out private insurance.

We understand that the guidance actually went out to the local health authorities last Friday. Since this date, there is some limited evidence that a few are being invited to apply for affiliation to the system, but many expats who visit the local offices are still being greeted with myopic denials that anything has changed.

The evidence also suggests that those who are being invited to complete an application form also need to supply a formidable amount of supporting documentation, so the process is by no means a simple one.

Deborah Dudley, spokesperson for the campaign group French Health Issues says, 'Whilst we are, of course, delighted that the new rules have been published - there is still a disturbingly large number of people who theoretically qualify for CMU entry now, but continue to be denied it. We have heard from some who are still having to cancel planned operations, because their local offices deny their entitlement to healthcare here. Until implementation actually happens, the situation remains unchanged for many.'

So, for many hapless expats, whose E106 has expired and who now have no health cover, there seems a perennial wait until they are presented with the green plastic emblem of their new life in France – their French health insurance card.

Pre-Existing Medical Condition

Nevertheless, there is potentially better news for those hope to relocate, who have a pre-existing medical condition.

We have received a number of enquiries from people who are hoping to take early retirement to France, but have suffered in the past from an illness that is likely to prevent them getting private health insurance. They include those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, or those in remission from cancer.

The new rules state that only those contracting a major illness or other accidents de vieafter they relocate would ordinarily be entitled to make application for access into the State system. Nevertheless, the authorities advise us that it is not out of the question that some cases arriving in France with a prior condition would be granted the right to affiliate to the contributory State system.

They are unwilling to commit themselves to any general rule (at least publicly), and advise us that any early retiree coming to France should assume that, on the expiry of their E106, they would need to take out private health insurance.

Consequently, if you are planning to relocate, and you are hoping to make application under the accidents de vie provisions, because you are unable to get private health insurance, then you would be strongly advised to make prior enquiries to the local health authority in the area you propose to live.

We are trying to get more information on this point, and we will post further news when it is available.

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