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Health in France

Withdrawal of Early Retiree S1 Health Certificates Delayed

Tuesday 08 April 2014

The planned withdrawal of S1 health certificates has been delayed, as officials consider the full implications of the proposed measure.

The UK Department of Health have confirmed that the planned abolition of the issue of new S1 certificates of entitlement this month has not taken place and that the forms are continuing to be issued on the basis of existing rules.

The S1 certificate grants free affiliation to the French health system, which for early retirees is up to a maximum of two and a half years, depending on their most recent national insurance record.

The rights of those of State Pension age to an S1 certificate for an indefinite period remains unaffected as do current early retirees with an S1 certificate.

There has been speculation that the abolition of the S1 forms for early retirees may not be as absolute as was previously proposed.

In particular, the speculation has been around whether there ought to be concessions for those relocating to Europe seeking employment, and for those for whom private health cover would not be an option due to an existing medical condition. However, there are administrative difficulties in anything less than wholesale abolition of the certificate, so these ideas may not see the light of day.

Nevertheless, the government is undoubtedly proceeding with some caution due to the need to maintain compliance with European regulations on the free movement of labour, and to consider the position of those early retirees with a long-term medical illness, who are currently entitled to an S1 on broadly the same terms as those of State Pension age.

The news of the delay is an important development for those considering relocating to France this year, who remain able to apply for S1 cover even though their relocation date is not imminent.

It comes on top of the development on which we exclusively reported last month, that existing early retirees with S1 certificates appear to be having far greater success in obtaining access to the French health system on the expiry of their S1 certificate.

This is happening as a result of the change in the application process, with centralisation of all applications from EEA early retirees to the health authority (CPAM) at Nîmes, in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Johanna Matthews of health insurers Exclusive Healthcare says that "the only cases where I am currently finding some applicants are having difficulties are those on a low income, which would then grant them access to free health care in France".

One of the conditions of legal residency in France is that migrants have sufficient resources to support themselves, so that they will not be a burden on the social security system.

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