Healthcare Provision in the EU

I am researching the possibility of moving to a warmer climate because of my poor health - probably to France. I retired in May 2007 and have 38 years qualifying years for NI. I am currently in receipt of the DLA higher rate Mobility Allowance and my NI is also paid. As I am 61 I receive free NHS prescribed medication.

I have been trying to find out my position as regards healthcare provision in France and how much support I might receive from the UK. As I have a pre-existing condition and must have regular medication to survive, which would normally cost in excess of £1000 per annum, this is an important factor.

I have written to various addresses and have been given 6 different phone numbers. The phone number given on the NHS helpline website is wrong and when I did eventually reach the one recommended (DLA Exportability Team) I had to wait online for over 20 minutes listening to the most awful canned music!

I believe I require form S1 but how do I get it? Is anyone else in the position where they required regular prescriptions?


Tell me about it, had I not done so then I would never have worked!

I think (possibly!?) the idea of cross border working is a bit lost on some Brits - must be the 'Island mentality' kicking in. Whereas, in many parts of the world it's a completely normal way of life. Many travel huge distances to work - not just the length and breadth of the Birtish Isles!

...diplomatic and non-diplomatic, civil service and non-civil service staff of country representations, similarly the staff of multinational companies employed in one country to work in another. In fact, I suspect it gets to be a long list at the end of the day.

...and thousands of flight attendants.

Oh yes. A Belgian truck driver who does hauls from Belgium and France to places like Astana in Kazakhstan and Dushanbe in Tajikistan is having a house built less than 300m from us. Nice chatty guy, but he brags about how much he earns from a three month round trip a bit too often. As far as I gather, he is a Belgian who pays his taxes and social, health and other charges there but uses the French health system because he is resident here that is paid for by Belgium. In other words he presumably has an S1 in order to on the one hand buck the system whilst getting the benefit of French standards and on the other to keep a foot in two countries. Like the pilots, his situation is extraordinary but also illustrates the point that it is very possible.

Yes Hilary, some commuters possibly do earn more than you did as a teacher however, many air crew commute across Europe and indeed the world - hopping on and off planes like buses - at their own expense and using standby travel concessions. Others may work in the City of London flying (or training) in from across Europe, many commute to and from Brussels, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Rome whilst resident in other countries. I won't go on.....:-). Not that tiring - 'typical' commuter flights are less than 90mins - it's a question of being organised.

My point is that S1's can be issued to anyone working in one EU country whilst resident in another. Essentially the country where you pay your dues is responsible for your healthcare costs. 'Inactives' or early retirees are a different kettle of fish.

Well, they must all be earning far more than I ever did as a teacher, or be able to claim business expenses, etc...

Not financially viable....and too exhausting for me....

A very honest, unblinkered appraisal of the weather in the SouthWest Brian. Loooong winters down here in the Ariege - fires will be lit next month and probably stay alight until April.

PS - love the comment about the 'sales pitch' - spot on !

No more strange than your strange reply which almost comes across as a sales pitch.

Possibly Hilary but not exclusively. Thousands of people commute across Europe - living in one country and working in another. For example there are loads of regular air commuters from Toulouse, Carcassonne, Bordeaux, Nice and Lyon who make the trip to the UK (and other European destinations) on a daily, weekly, monthly etc basis - no to mention the Tunnel commuters from Paris / Lille. It's a small world.

As for those working online in France for a UK based company - very, very dodgy ground unless they are registered as a business in France. Can of worms.

What a strange reply Brian. My comment about NRW was just to indicate why I might be slightly biased in thinking PC is mild in the winter. NRW has cold winters, not as cold as Berlin perhaps, but much, much colder than South West England where I grew up. Last winter in (my bit) Poitou Charente the temperature rarely dropped below freezing and never below a couple of degrees below. I can count the number of frosts on one hand. I have experienced -12 once, in December 1995 when the whole autoroute system south of Paris was closed because of the extreme weather. The reality of the climate is we have pleasant summers and mild winters. Last year I sailed every month from March to November and the only reason December and February was not on the list is because the sails were in the wrong place.
I doubt that the Poitou Charentes has the ‘best’ climate in France, it will not be hot enough for some, but it is not a bad place to live at all.
Re transport, Calais is six/seven hours by road, I have three airports within easy reach and The TGV linkes to Paris are excellent.

Poitou Charente is made to sound entirely the same throughout here. In fact, in the south of the region, Angoulême - the capital of the Charente - can be quite average for France. This year has been hot and dry in the Cognac area, well into the 30s but whilst the temperature is fairly average and January, for instance, does not fall below 0°C too often, last winter there was about -10°C a few times but then he has +15°C sometimes. How I know, is that we have a 'neighbour' who commutes between a dairy farm he owns there along the river Né, the boundary with Charente- Maritime, below Cognac and his original one here. So he has two riparian (influences climate a lot) climates, both Atlantic maritime, which means humid a large part of the year.

Comparing with Nordrhein Westfalen, where I had the first few years of my life in Köln and have had some close contacts for over 60 years is rather disingenuous. Sure winters can be cold but then often quite mild although summers are nothing to write home about. SW France is highly changeable, people are told how brilliant the summers are, but then come and suffer in the high 30s°C (in direct sun it went over 40°C a couple of times this year with an ambient temperature of 36°C) but in February it can slide back down to -12°C-ish fairly often, has been below -20°C now and again. In other words, temperature swings of 40°C between top and bottom are quite normal in SW France. That is why some of us are making a stand about losing the winter fuel payment because the DWP has made out France is more or less a tropical paradise in the winter. I am just over a hour drive from the bottom of the Poitou-Charente region, so make no illusions that Aquitaine is climatic heaven on earth. We have also been warned this year that temperatures have been climbing fast and may go much higher.

As for transport. Well, in truth it is average good for France but not actually outstanding. The south and south east have that privilege but that is where property is not so cheap.

This would be much more common if onelived in Pas de Calais or Normandy, presumably......or are you referring to people who do some sort of computer-based work for a UK company ?

The supply ofSecondary supply teaching is now far too erratic & unpredictable to be able to book cheap fares in advance.....I did toy withe idea of trying to comute back & forth for say 6 weeks at a time.....but agencies have not been particularly helpful,,,what demand there is is often Primary based,,,(a very different kettle of fish)..,,my health in the meantime has taken a 'nosedive' and I couldn't hand the stress involved in any of this now. Am aiming to live a quiet, gentle paced life, doing & progressing artwork, reading, pottering, small amounts of gardening and renovating and enjoying being here in France.....while I still can...

Presumably you are talking about people who physically work in the UK as opposed to those who work for UK firms online or in France?

Property prices in most places are low. There are some expensive hotspots but in general prices are lower than in many other parts of France. Not only is the climate kind but PC is well connected by road, rail and air.

Hilary you can obatin an S1 if you're under State NRA (as I've already stated) for example if you work in the UK but are resident in France i.e. you're still making contributions - thousands do.

Poitou Charante , I knew was supposed to have more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in France....mild winters ...sounds very tempting...


Property prices ?

I'm pretty sure that you wont be able to get an S1 if you are under state retirement age....I was one of the unsuccesful applicants for this before the deadline, back in April 2014.......

I didn't get it because of not having made enough NI contributions during the previous 3 years, through periods of a chronic shortage of supply teaching and some illness.

So the good old Dwp, some kind of distorted logic...decided that despite making copious and regular contributions throughout my working life and not having been a 'drain on the system' by occupying hospital beds giving birth etc.,(as a part-time carer for years to my dsiabled mother & much older brother, quite the reverse !), decided that I did not qualify...hence my dependence now on my EHIC card , which will eventually expire and the necessity of frequent visits home to the UK for eligability purposes...

Ghastly, archaic,governmental systems.....!

Keep us updated on your progress. Your experience could be very valuable for others.
Having arrived here from Germany I love the mild winters in Poitou Charente. When the winter sun shines you can actually feel its warmth, quite a difference from my time in Nordrhein Westfahlen!