Health Insurance Costs for Retirees

Hi All,

Husband and I are making the move to France (again - second time around!) but now we are both retired. I appreciate we will need Private Health Insurance. Can anybody out there give me a rough indication of the amount we are talking about for the two of us… I’m doing my sums so there are no big shocks!!! Many thanks
Jane W.

Hi Jane and welcome to SF
Use the Insurance link in the banner at the top of the page to ask a question of @fabien where you will get qualified, unbiased advice on this or click on @fabien and select image
to send a direct message to him.

Hi Graham, thank you so much for responding so quickly… I did as you said and get an immediate estimate… Well that was worth doing!! And it was quite a shock - nearly 500 euros per month - ouch!! Well, at least I know. Thanks again.

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Did you ask @fabien how long you would need PHI for and your exit route once you are in the French system and options to convert it to a Mutuelle thereafter?

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Hi Jane,
We got our PHI through

Cost was approx 600€ for 6 months. There are a number of options there. We needed the PHI for the period before we can get into the Healthcare system.

I don’t think I really understand this Health Insurance lark at all… Please can you explain…? I thought once the husband and I were firmly settled - getting a carte d’sejour after a long term visa (fingers crossed) then we would always need the Private Health Insurance - forever! Whats this about converting to a Mutuelle… Really, forgive me for being so thick here… Many thanks for your indulgence!!

Interesting, thanks for the info… I shall investigate… Best regards.

Hi Jane… which country pays for your Health needs at the moment ??

I’m now not certain if things have changed since Brexit but it was the case that after a certain period of legal residency that you could apply to join the French health system. The basis of it being that you only get reimbursed a certain amount according to certain rules. You can get top-up to cover the balance which is called a mutuelle. It’s more complicated than that but that is the basic idea.

You are UK retirees? And do you have your State Pensions yet? As if so, even after Brexit you can apply for something called an S1 that means that the UK pays for you to join the French Health Care system.

It can take a little bit from arriving here to getting it all sorted, so you do need a short period of PHI.

Alternatively, if not yet in receipt of your UK State Pension you can join the health service after you have been here for 3 months. And it also take a bit to get this all sorted, so you are looking at PHI for maybe 6 months.

Once in the health service either you pay nothing (with an S1) or you pay about 8% of your income above about €10,000. Much cheaper than PHI!

The French Health Service isn’t 100% free. You have to pay a percentage for every medical act. This varies from 0-100% just to make it more complicated! Many people take out what is called a mutuelle, or top up insurance, to cover this element. It’s a choice.

It’s a thorny subject that’s particularly French. So hope this helps!

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Well thank you Graham, that explains it perfectly. Think I’m going to like this site… !!! Best Regards…


Thank you Jane… Yes, we are both UK retirees and we both get a State Pension (well me from next month, yay!!!) What you have said all makes perfect sense and yes I remember from way back having to put 20 euros on the doctors desk before he would talk to me!!! But… he was amazing!!! So no complaints here… Many thanks for the really helpful info. Kind Regards, Jane

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Once you have an address in France and a set date for moving you can contact the DWP overseas team and start the process.

I recommend you actually talk to Fabien about flexible policies that allow you to downgrade after a few months. Otherwise you will be locked in for a year.

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Brexit has probably changed everything, but I’ll share our experience with you anyway. I’m unqualified and accept no responsibility, etc.
When you first arrive you have the status of a “tourist”. That means your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is valid and you will be reimbursed (we were) by the French state insurance, CPAM, according to French law, i.e. usually 70%, more or less, as mentioned above. You must make sure the doctor, who you must first pay yourself, gives you a “feuille de soins” to give to the CPAM for reimbursement. You show them it, any prescription you paid for, and your EHIC.
What you do about the rest is up to you. We took the risk and paid ourselves. The doctor fees are quite reasonable.
Maybe you could take out travel insurance to cover the first part? You are “tourists” after all. There are contracts for up to at least 30 days. Also yearly contracts for multi-use, if you want to go on holiday from France after Covid and be covered for that as well. You could even maybe wangle it by popping to England every 30 days to start the time all over again (probably not possible with Covid) . That might be cheaper than what Fabien offers you. All this is conjecture. It didn’t work for us, as we had officially given up our residence in Germany, and the insurance company didn’t want to know. It may be different with GB, as there is no official registration of residence.
After 3 months you can apply to the CPAM with your S1. They sent us a provisional insurance number fairly quickly. See the other posts for what to do after that.
Good luck

Thanks James, That is really helpful… We are in really early stages at the moment (yet to sell Cornish house) but just wanted as much info as possible in order to make the best decision… Again, thanks to everybody… Jane

IIRC not quite correct. If you arrive in France with the intention of residency you cannot claim to be a tourist as the two are incompatible (mutually exclusive).

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Surely one can no longer be classed as a Tourist once application for UK S1 has been made…

In the meantime… UK Govt advises folk take out Travel Insurance along with the EHIC… when visiting Europe.

We didn’t “claim” to be tourists, we were TOLD we had the status of tourists, although we said we wanted to live here! Of course, we spent the first 5 months living in gites, so that had something to do with it. If you buy a property and move in straight away it’s maybe different. Intention is a difficult thing to prove.
Good point, Stella. I can only say it worked for us. And we still have our German EHICs to use outside France.

Before Brexit… when new Brits arrived in our commune with the firm intention of settling in France … they were walked down to CPAM and we got the ball rolling…

This was happening right up until the end of December 2020… as folk made a last minute dash to France.

Must confess I’ve not been involved with Brits who have arrived this year… 2021.

However, for anyone who arrives in France and relies on EHIC to cover things… I can confirm that an emergency private ambulance from UK to repatriate an injured person… cost £4,000 last year. … that was the cheapest available.

no idea of costs this year…

I never said anything different, you simply made a statement which I challenged. If you don’t want people to comment, then don’t comment :roll_eyes: