Healthcare Headache...Expired S1, retired but not yet a 'pensioner' and less than 5 years residency- What now?

Dear All

I had a rude awakening from my retiremental idyll yesterday when the pharmacist refused to give me my monthly prescription without payment as I was no longer within the French healthcare system! This proved to be a symptom of a huge problem which has taken me by surprise.

Having secured my Carte Vitale and arranged a top-up mutuelle a couple of years ago I wrongly assumed my long-term health care was sorted. I now find that my S1 expired last month and I no longer have any rights to health care in France.

I fall between several stools as I cannot avail myself of the 5 year residency rule as we moved permanently here in 2010(although have had the house since 2004).

I am no longer working and am in receipt of a UK employment pension, although at 52 not yet of pensionable age.

There must be many others who have found themselves in this position and I would be interested to hear how you have resolved the problem.

I should add that my wife is of pensionable age although not in receipt of a UK state pension because of a lack of contributions. Her Carte Vitale was therefore issued on the basis of my contributions. I am wondering whether her age will grant me any entitlement back into the French health care system.

I am still a little shell-shocked from this revelation and would welcome any advice from SFN members.

Many thanks


Latest update on the 'How dare you retire too young' saga..... DWP have confirmed that although my wife is of pensionable age, because she does not qualify for a pension (due to lack of contributions) she does not qualify for health cover whilst in France. She is therefore dependent on my rights..which expired recently with my S1. I therefore now have a carte vitale which is 'inutile' and a top-up 'Mutuelle' which is equally useless because there is nothing to top up!

My rights will be restored again when I reach 65 (a long way away yet!) or after 5 years residence. In the meantime I am shuddering at the astronomic quotes for 'full care' health insurance policies. In desperation we have submitted a CMU Protection de Base application and are throwing ourselves on the mercy of the local CPAM on the basis of my wif'es pensionable age. We have been told that it will take several weeks before we receive any decision but it does appear to be an entirely arbitrary decision.

I hear that the government is currently reviewing their shoddy treatment of early retirees and ditching the 5 year rule in favour of a condition of habitual residence but who knows how long this will take.

In the meantime let's hope we don't get ill..........

After I was quoted circa 800 euro per month for Full Health Insurance, I didn't pursue it any further.

It was Newcastle that suggested that I move back to the UK. Grrrr!


Thanks John- I hope you both spend your £14 wisely!'s £14 more than my wife gets tho'.......

Thanks Catherine- I'll try a call to Newcastle. I'd like to think that logic and fair play would prevail but by the same token if I were resident in UK I'd be fully NHS eligible and so one would think within the spirit of the EU, the same would apply here....

Brian, Newcastle holds the key to your wife’s eligibilty for an S1. The question can probably be answered via a phone call and the more I think about it, she stands a good chance. Were she resident in the UK, she certainly would have full NHS coversge despite lack of pension contributions. Hope it’s that logical. I wonder if she can claim a spousal pension before you reach 65. Also worth asking. Give Newcastle a ring. Try 44 191 21 87777 Hope it works out for you.

We did inquire about private health care and based purely on age both 60 this year was about 3,000 Euros , and we were told they would cover any pre existing conditions , only spoke to one provider as work was an option.Last year as the apple crop was very poor there was only 60 hours work so yes it works and it covers me as well

Brain, my wife also did not have full NI contribution, but did get a uk state pension from the age of 60, of £14 per year, yes per year. I would get your wife to talk to uk pensions international office.

Thanks Patrick- If I could be sure it was totally reliant on age then I would sleep easier tonight. I fear that because my wife doesn't qualify for a UK state pension because of lack of NI contributions, this might be a problem....?

Thanks Linda- so working for 60 hours per month gets you into the system? Did you enquire about private insurance or was the cost prohibitive?

Thanks John- The only concern I have is that my wife has never been eligible for a state pension due to lack of contributions and I'm not sure whether eligibility arises solely as a result of age or whether she must also be in receipt of the state pension....

Thanks William- Sorry to hear about your predicament too. It's a crazy situation after having paid into the NHS during a working lifetime. Did you consider any 'Full' health insurance policies to tide you over the next 4 years or was the cost prohibitive?

Jean, Brian stated his wife did not have enough contributions for coverage on her own, was this your case as well?

That is where my concern lies. I hope I am wrong and contributions equate to pension but not to healthcare.

Thanks Catherine- Hope you're fully recovered now! The 5 year residency threshhold would be reached first. We've been here 3 years but I was hoping the fact that my wife being over 65 would qualify us now despite the fact that she doesn't qualify for a UK state pension due to insufficient NI subs...

We are in the same situation ,been here nearly 5 years first year covered by UK.We are in receipt of an occupational pension on which we have to pay social charges , we were in occupations that allowed us to retire at 55 . Since the first year the only 2 ways to get into the system are to work for a minimum of 60 hours or private insurance.We have been through this over and over been waiting for the 5 years to come to see if we can get in that way , we will see I am not convinced wish we had come in 2007 wouldn't have been a problem then.

My husband has been picking apples in the season every year so we know the 60 hour rule works :)

I would agree with Patrick, you should be able to piggy back on your wife’s S1, I did before I reached 65.
I previously been working in the UK whilst my wife was here under retirement age so she gained an S1 on being my dependent then we swopped when I retired at 63 and she was 61.
Good luck


I'm sure Patrick (above) is spot on. You should be able to receive a Carte Vitale as a dependant of your wife. My brother has just gone through the same process. Make sure you retain copies of any documents that you send to CPAM as they have a tendency to lose them and duplicates can be difficult to obtain from Newcastle.

I'm in a similar position but without an eligible dependant. My Carte Vitale entitlement expired last year and at 61 years of age cannot get another before I'm 65. I have tried every option and am sadly now planning to return permanently to the UK. I'm not covered in France nor am I now entitled to the UK NHS. The system is crazy. I just cannot get proper health cover

Thanks Nick

Thanks Jane

Cheers Ross