Health Care (under 65 years of age) Help

I'm sure this question has been addressed before but maybe someone would advise me what I should do.

My circumstance:

I'm 61 years of age, took early retirement and moved to France. The carte vitale that I was issued with when I arrived two years ago expired in Dec 2012. I have Health insurance through Pacifica that I arranged through Credit Agricole Bank. I'm currently in excellent health.

1. CPAM tell me that my carte vitale has expired and I need to get another Form S14 (?) from UK NI in Newcastle and apply for cover again.

2. UK NI tell me they don't know of a Form S14 and as I'm below 65 I'm not covered from the UK.

3. Pacifica, tell me that I'm not covered because I no longer have a current Carte Vitale

Any suggestions? I'm currently thinking, rather reluctantly, that it may be best for me to sell up go back to the UK, then return when I'm 65.

There must be others in the Survive France network who have encountered the same issue?

William, you took the option for early retirement, so I assume there must be coverage till the official retirement age by NHS. They probably did not change the regulation in the case of early retirement leaving people in limbo for the period till official age is being reached. You may need a EHIC as additional cover. Its free and certainly useful in case of urgency. for the next few years. We know the "Eurocrats" often forget what really is in practice entangled with their occult rules, but here is more at Citizens Advice.


We are both early retiree, left work at 55 ,with an occupational pension but no health cover here .if you are in good health and fancy it you can get seasonal work my husband picks apples , only have to work a minimum of 60 hrs to get cover :)

Hi William

You can go online and fill in the form online. (If your French isn't good you may need someone to help you). You would be offering a service. It's been a couple of years since I did my form so I can't really remember much about it I'm afraid! I didn't have a social service number so had to leave that bit blank.


thank you everyone,

Lots of good advice to consider,



Hi Joa, there are two trains of thought on medical insurance (and all others !) - some will say it is a waste of money, others say it is a necessity. Accidents or illness can happen at any time so a happy compromise might be to look for a polciy with a higher excess which keeps the costs down but covers the major medical expenses you could incur if you are happy to pay any small GP bills etc yourself.

We were in the same situation, Joan, as early retirees --- both British but not been UK resident for many years so could not get any help from the NI dept in the UK either. Moved here a little over a year ago and took private cover for [hospitalisation only] for the meantime, just in case (BUPA). This was also because we weren't sure we were staying (long story).

In early Sept my husband registered as AE (artisan, sort of, since he's renovating property) and though the paperwork was a bit tedious (had help from a french friend) within a few weeks we had a letter from RSI/CPAM to confirm cover, and only need to show this at the doctor or hospital until the actual carte vitales arrive. His registration covers both of us, by the way, and we didn't have to actually declare any turnover or tax or anything before the health cover was sorted.

Just be careful about AE registration as there are lots of companies offering to do the process for you (and for a fairly sizable fee) so best to look on and It seems, however, that some AE are more simple than others, and artisan was easier than "profession liberale" (teaching, executive, management type). My husband was going to register as a freelance contractor in his actual profession [insurance] until this was pointed out, for instance, but I'm sure if you read through the blogs you'll find that in each region there will be different experiences (we're in Rhone Alpes).

Hi there. I think it is best to ensure you have adequate health cover/ insurance. It is not worth the risk in my view, unless you really have a lot of capital to spare to pay for treatment of anything very serious, or as a result of an accident.
Please also ensure you have taken the appropriate tax and / inheritance planning advice before you go, as some things should be done before you go, some after you arrive, and paying unnecessary tax on your assets and income when you are there, is not ideal :wink: . I know I am a professional adviser with 12 yrs experience of this, and do feel able to message me if you want an initial chat, but really, I have seen so many opportunities missed and problems left unsolved until it is too late, to not say is knowing the questions to ask isn’t it? Kind rgds
Mary Taylor

William,please don't move back to UK; that's admitting defeat. Start with the S1 - though the B&B seems a good plan and you may even enjoy it! By French standards, becoming an auto-entrepreneur is easy! [ is not surrounded by a fog of bureaucracy and 5,000 forms to fill.]

Thanks Julia,

Any idea what is involved in setting up as an autoentrepreneur offering B&B?


Many thanks Paul & indeed to all who responded to my plea.

I arranged insurance through Pacifica (via my Credit Agricole bank a/c) at 80+euro per month which I thought covered me. But it transpires that that is just for what is in effect 'top-up' cover and they require me to possess a valid carte vitale.

I'll investigate the autoentrepreneur route by offering B&B in my spare room. However, I'm reluctantly favouring returning to the UK to live with a relative for 3 and a half years, until I'm 65, and in the meantime just keeping my current house as an occasional holiday home.

Thank you again to all who replied. :-)

This is really interesting, we will be in a similar position when we move over in Feb 2013.

We've both worked in UK for 70 years combined! However, we are early retirees and we haven't worked in the past year, so living off savings and not claiming benefits, but we will not be covered for the first two years when we move to France. I was really shocked when we were told by the overseas dept at the NI dept.

We plan to set up an AE, but will it not take time to get into the system, really a year to pay the first tax and get all our cards?

Should we look at Private health cover for the first year?

Any help would be appreciated?

Cheers from Scotland


This is a problem many early retirees are faced with. It seems daft that you could stop working in the UK, pay no NI etc and you'd still get free healthcare. But over here, you get nothing. The only way around it (apart from selling and moving back, which could take a couple of years and leave you with no medical cover) is to work. If it's feasible, set up as an autoentrepreneur and offer Bed & Breakfast. You only need 1 room (register with your mairie to be legal, and with the local tourist office to get clients). If you don't earn anything you don't have to pay anything. If you do earn a little, declare it and pay any social charges etc quarterly. Even if you only earn 200€ per year at least it will get you back into the health system (via the RSI), and if you can keep it going for 3 years then you'll be able to go back into CPAM (unless the French change the rules in the meantime).

Hi. I agree that getting a job, or starting a viable small business, will get you in the system, if you no one in your household to attach to their carte vitale. The UK form is an S1. You sound like you may have had the old version of this, the E106, when you came. It lasts up to 2 and a half years, based on your NI contributions in the UK, and one applies before leaving the UK, not once you are french resident.Once in receipt of a UK state pension, then a permanent S1( the old E121) covers you. Incidentally it also negates any social charges on foreign pension income for the holder. Maybe you only had a top up insurance policy and that is why it was cancelled without the S1 giving you a carte vitale. There is a useful ex pat health insurance company Exclusive Healthcare that might help. Also remember you are entitled to the cover in France once resident for 5 years. A local Marie sometimes also has a “social assistant” that can help discuss entitlements, benefits etc. Good luck

Have you considered private medical cover - it may be a cheaper alternative than trying to set up in business etc ?

Easiest way is to get a job and pay into the system for 4 months ... then you're covered for the next few years. Impossible to find a job at 61? (Well, it's not easy). Then set up as an autoentrepreneur and declare the odd bit of revenue. The RSI will give you a carte vitale for the years up to 65.

Third way is to find someone who will take you on to their card as an 'ayant droit': one of your children, your wife, a cousin?

Finally, when ill I used to go to the hospital and get treated at out-patients: you pay 11 euros and get the same treatment as all the others.