Early Retirees Healthcare in France - help!

My husband and I are aged 54 and 55. We both have small 'employment pensions'. We do not work and do not want to work. We have owned a house here for about 14 years and lived between UK and France approx. 50/50 since early 2012. We visited the CPAM today to ask for a Cart Vital as we want to stay full time here and have been here now more than 90 consecutive days. We had all our documents except for an S1. (I had read that the S1 was only available to those who had paid NI conts within the prev 2 years - which we have not). The CPAM clerk said we must have an S1 or an E121 or an E106 or a letter from the authorities to explain why they won't give us one. I spoke to Newcastle HMRC today and was told that the two E forms no longer exist and were superseded by the S1 but that the S1 is only for people who work abroad. He didn't know what people who don't work have to do! Advice on various sites on the web seems to be conflicting. Are there any early retirees out there, or anyone at all, who can tell us what we have to do?

I thought as I had started this particular string I should also post our final position. After supplying all required evidence on income, savings, marital status, birth etc etc we finally received our carte vitals (one each). Hubbys arrived in august, mine in September. Each cv has a unique social security number on it, which differs from -what we now realise was a 'provisional' one - shown on the attestation we were given pending receipt of our cards. Our affiliation is by virtue of residency and costs us 8% of our joint income. In addition we have now purchased our 'assurance complementaire' at a level that is not quite basic but isn't very much more. We think we've covered what we need however and that costs us another 108 € per month for us both.

We had been to the doctors 3 times before our cv's arrived and so, this month, I sent off the 3 pieces of paper that showed I'd paid 23€ per visit in the hope of re-imbursement of 65% of that. Nothing so far!

We collected my husbands prescription before we had our 'assurance complementaire' in place so we had to pay a part of that cost but we should get that back next time.

So that's it, I think we are now sorted out. Definitely more expensive for us compared to being in the UK but it is simply the way it is, it's the same for the French people and that is what the law says we can have - the same as them. I am a little concerned that it costs us so much and yet we haven't ACTUALLY had anything reimbursed yet. I live in hope that all will be well.

Thanks to everyone who took part in this discussion and I hope it has been of some help to others struggling with healthcare issues.

1 Like

I completed the CA8454 from HMRC and they have now replied with the relevant paperwork which states that me, my wife and children are covered by the UK as I am still a UK tax payer whilst my wife and children reside full time in France. She has now to take that into the CPAM for final ratification. It lasts for 12 months and then we have to apply via the same process again.

Thanks to everyone for the postings which are very helpful. Our current situ is that we have received a letter asking for some further documentation which we can provide and also for us to complete a "questionnaire recherché de droits ressortissants europeens inactifs" - this seems to duplicate the questions on the CMU application form and once again asks for an S1 and refers to residence of +5yrs. Despite our fraying nerves we are going to work through it and submit all that we can. DEBRA - I would be grateful for a copy of the letter mentioned so that I can hopefully deal with the +5yrs issue. Do I just put my e-mail address on here ? I can't thank everyone enough for their input. It is comforting to know we aren't alone. I will feedback on our situation as it progresses.

No longer an S1. Now all been handed over to HMRC on 0300 200 3500. The form that has replaced the S1 (same form but different number) is now the CA8584 which you can find under forms. I completed it and sent it off a couple of days ago. It will be issued if you are working (as I am in the UK and paying NI contributions) but your dependants live in France.

Thank you Marie for your reply. I will take your advice and have a chat with my mayor. :-)

Minor nit but can be confusing–the E121 no loner exists, it’s an S1 and UK since July will not issue before retiirement age.

Certain conditions are automatically covered 100%, this usually means that any treatment related to this specific condition is covered, whereas treatment concerning anything else would be reimbursed at the usual rate. As you have no income, you can apply for CMU, which would give you total coverage, bear in mind that this is neither fast, nor automatic and expect ot have to provide quite a bit of information about your resources. You may also be able to apply for a pension as you are (probably) unable to work full time. I would advise you to see a social worker who could give you a clearer picture of what you are entitled to, there should be one at your hospital, or at least one at your mairie.

I wish you a speedy recovery and the best of luck!

Hi, I wonder if anyone can guide me on my peculiar issue. I arrived in France late last year to live permanently in my house. I very quickly found out that I needed open heart surgery (which I was told in the UK wasn't urgent) as advised by a doctor here. I was treated very well both by doctors and hospital and had the operation successfully (I hope). I paid all costs except for the actual operation amounting to around €3000 for medications and doctor visits etc. This was all done on presentation of my EHIC card which I was told by the office in England and here in Dordogne, was fine. The reimbursements are (very) slowly arriving in my bank account. On my last visit to my medecin traitant I was given a pink document that stated I had been given 100% cover (as it was a heart problem) for 5 years and also what seems to be a social security number! My doctor now says I am fully covered for five years. I don't understand all this. I was about to apply for a carte vitale when I arrived but my situation took over and everything seemed to become out of my control. I am recovering now and need to understand where I stand. I am 62, have no real income and I am not due my pension until I am 65. I am living on savings (dwindling) so definitely not a burden on France.

Has anyone else experienced this? Thanks for any info.

Hi Debra,

Finally got to speak to the Overseas Healthcare Team today (I'm back in the UK sadly having arrived back from home in France late last night) and they directed me to the HMRC on 0300 200 3500 to get the S1 form.

For your info (and anyone else who is interested) the S1 form is now known as the CA8454 form on the HMRC website under the section FORMS.

I've now completed that and sent it off so if I fit the bill (which I believe I do) then they will send a document to allow me to register in France which will state that we get health care cover from the UK.

I will keep you posted.

Yes, the CMU isn't automatic - I do not know anyone who has the CMU in France (I've been living here for 25 years)....it is only given to people who have very low income....

Remember that CMU B is normally granted for free to families who have a very low income, i.e 9,600 per annum (that would be for the two of you, not each...). There are exceptions, but in principle they will check your income, and your lifestyle too. I have never heard of 15.1 %, but that doesn't mean much.... Apparently, you need to live in France for 3 years, and declare your taxes here, you also need to prove that you have no other way of getting health coverage, which might not be easy if you have been paying private insurance.... There is a simulator here for retired people http://www.cmu.fr/vous_etes_a_la_retraite.php

Also look into a Mutuelle, an insurance company in your own area, not just a national or international company.

We have one here in Cluny which is always more competitive and we can just pop into the office if we have a problem or need advice.

Jan I suggest that you contact Andy Mills at the Department of Health, who is the International Policy Admin Support Officer and explain your predicament to him.

He understands the ins and outs of these things. His 'phone number is 0044 20 7972 4792.

That's very kind. We are 10 km from Jonzac in the Charente Maritime....you?

Teaching their Dad the language, no doubt! :-)

Yes...I agree Debra ... I teach English in 3 primary schools and when they're young...they really learn French quickly...it's amazing!!! Did you see about a primary school for "primo arrivants" (newcomers to France)? They have a special teacher who takes the children to work with them in small groups part of the time...this allows them to learn quicker...

I have to say I believe this has been one of the most informative discussions I've ever come across on SFN. I wish It'd been here five years ago. It would have saved me a lot of confusion and frustration.

Thanks Susan, yes we are both British & your statement is more or less how I saw things, conveniently forgetting that when my wife reaches pensionable age that I am automatically covered under existing French law. As you say, maybe as little as 2 years on fully comp private health insurance - happy days !!


As soon as you or your wife reaches "UK state retirement age", (assuming you are both British), and also assuming that this person qualifies for a UK state pension, (part or whole), it is my understanding that an S1 will be issued from UK, (upon request?), which will cover BOTH of you in France, ie both of you will be eligible to join the French healthcare system at that point.

Not entirely sure if this means you will have to pay 8% CMU-B "cotisations", (on your pension incomes), or not. (Probably yes.)

But think the 7.1% Social Charges on pension income is NOT charged once you have an S1. (As the UK covers the social charges for you.)

So maybe you are less than 5 years away from not needing to pay for private healthcare in France? (Good news?)

I am 57 with UK pension payable at age 66, therefore I would have to pay the whole 5 yrs, (BUPA or whoever), for myself. (Ditto my husband.)

And FYI, BUPA (which we already pay in UK), is NOT going to be cheaper than your quote. (We would pay that now if we went to France tomorrow, and it seems set to go up by ~ 20% pa with our ages, so will be double the cost in 5 years from now.)

We could think of switching to a cheaper insurer, but then any pre-existing conditions would be excluded. (So swings and roundabouts probably!)