Reduced income - do I apply for CMU or PUMA now?

I used to have a small Auto Entrepreneur business selling things online, mostly to the UK, but brexit killed that. I radiated it over two years ago, but surprising still seem to be under RSI for healthcare.
However my remaining income ( some royalties and a rental house) are being reduced and I can no longer afford a mutuelle.
I know a few years ago I talked with CPAM I talked about getting CMU when I went through a previous bad patch, but I read there is now PUMA i can apply for too.
I am unsure of the differences, I thought PUMA had replaced CMU , but I see it still seems to be possible to apply for either .
Which should try to get ?

OK so to clarify.
CMU used to be the name of one branch the standard national healthcare system. Since 2016 the system has been restructured and the entire system renamed to to PUMA.
CMU Complémentaire, or CMU-C, was, and still is, an add-on to the national healthcare system that assists people on low incomes by lessening the amount they have to contribute to their healthcare.
Normally when you close an AE your healthcare (PUMA) continues on the same basis for 12 months after the business closes. If yours has continued for 2 years then that is unusual and I don’t know why.
So you presumably are on PUMA, and you can apply for CMU-C to give you extra benefits if you’re on a low income.
But if you’re hoping to get a titre de séjour after Brexit, and you don’t have at least 5 good solid years of being self supporting and paying your way, I would think twice before going this route.

Yes I’m in the process of applying for a titre de séjour - I could probably scrape up 5 years in the last 10 were I’m meet the income requirements, but not contiguous years.

I’ve managed for a year without a mutuelle as I’m Diabetic and so many things are covered by my ALD , but my doctor thinks I have a heart murmur and I have to go see the consultant next month, I’m worried by the cost of tests and other things that might be involved.

Getting thrown out of France sounds better than dying.

If you’ve been here for over 10 years legally (ie have tax returns) then you can’t be thrown out.

And the issue of not being able to afford a mutuelle is not necessarily critical. For each year you’ve had a mutuelle have you totted up how much it cost you, and what you actually got back? You were probably not in profit. We didn’t have one for years and since we’ve had one it has cost us money, not saved it. So if you are generally in reasonable condition it is really for peace of mind as rarely makes financial sense.

And a heart murmer doesn’t necessarily mean huge expenses, as may well just be totally innocent and due to something like anaemia. So no operations, no major treatment, and no major costs. I’ve had one for years that is due to a heart valve defect but docs reckon if I look after myself it will be 10 or more years before anything actually needs to be done.

I didn’t have a mutual for the first few years but glad I did when I had a torn retina 3 years ago, I’m still having injections which the drug alone costs over 700 euro.
As for low income after paying cotisations I’m not much better off than someone getting CAF plus cheap telephone, electric, no habitation tax, and seriously want to return to the U.K. In the next year.

If your income is low, then aren’t your cotisations equally low? As it’s only levied on your income above the threshold? (If your injections are for macular degeneration did you know that there’s a newer, much cheaper, drug now)

Anyway, I think life is equally hard in the UK for people on low incomes just above support thresholds, and probably in other countries too. Sad fact of life that if you don’t or can’t earn much then things can be pretty s**t.

So what changed for you, Barrie?
Serious question, because I’ve been considering the same.

The first few years here were good but you get to the point where there’s nothing new, nothing that makes you think I must go and see that or do this. Plus it’s hard making a living .
A couple who I know have just bought a house in uk and now says enough is enough, been there done that and they had to get back on the uk housing market or face reality of never been able to in the future.

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(Please take this in the friendly spirit it is offered.)

Having read what you have written, I begin to understand why you are looking forward to going back to the UK.

I sincerely hope that you manage to sell and get yourself the happier life you are seeking.

Best of luck.

Fuck me…ain’t that the truth !!!

Thanks for explaining, although I have to say I can’t identify with any of that. I never really thought of moving to France either as being something you “do” just for the sake of getting the t-shirt, or because I expected it to provide a non stop flow of new experiences, although in fact even after 10+ years here there’s still parts of France on my bucket list to visit.
My situation is that it would make a lot of sense for me to go back to the UK and work there for the last few years before I hit retirement age, rather than keep working here and take my retirement in France. If I did that I could arrange things so as to make my retirement a lot more comfortable, financially speaking, because I could catch up my missing years of NICs to get a full UK state pension and even pay in a bit extra, and take my private pension lump sum as a UK taxpayer. That’s what my head is telling me but I’m finding it hard to convince my heart.



Have you thought about paying voluntary NIC to top up? i’ve missed a couple of years and worked out that topping up is worth it if I reckon I’ll live to 72…(which I plan to do!)

Is it that much harder here than the UK? I think earning your living is hard everywhere, unless trained in a much needed area.

My experience is that folks here think that they are doing you a favour by giving you work…
I had a particular client that gave me approx 11k of work every year for 7 years…never a problem with money or hassle.
Others however, will always ask if you can “do something” on the final bill…my answer was “no, you’re already getting a very good price” &/or “if you’re not happy, there’s always someone cheaper”…
Strange how people always come back when they see how much others charge.
In the UK, 90% of my clients were in US, Scandanavia & Europe…all repeat clients, as quality price was very good…I was very rarely bumped for money over there…however here, it’s very common…again; in my experience.

Yes, that’s the other option. I haven’t worked out yet how long I’d have to live to make it worth buying back 5 years and I’m not wild keen on the idea TBH. It seems a lot to shell out and it makes me cross that they moved the goal posts after I had purposely waited to move until I had 30 years contributions, which was what was required at the time. Hey ho, the best laid plans etc. And it wouldn’t solve the lump sum tax issue either.

  • suggests you were trying to charge less than the going rate, which inevitably makes it harder to earn a living, specially in France where selling on price is hard because of the way the taxes work. Also sounds a bit like you were aiming at Brits, since French clients would know the going rate?
    I agree it can be hard to get started, I moved my business from the UK and it took a while to switch to a French client base that was prepared to pay the higher rate I needed to charge in France, so the first few years were a struggle. But once I had the French clients it was no harder making a living here than in the UK, you charge a bit more and pay out a bit more and the end result is the same. My clients are businesses not individuals and on the whole I find French clients nicer to deal with - more professional, more considerate, more loyal and less likely to defect if a cheaper supplier makes them an offer, I don’t know if the same applies to individuals.

Re: UK state pension
Anna, I suggest it would be well worth calculating the option of buying back ‘years’ with Class 2 voluntary NI contributions as you qualify by working in France. You then have to apply to do this but it works out less expensive than the Class 3 option.

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Not at all, Anna.
With very feww exceptions, what interests clients the most is price.
We live in the age of Brico Depot; people see what stuff costs there & then ask why a trade charges more.
I’ve never had anyone complain about the quality of my work, but have been asked the question many time “why so expensive ?”
My answer is “shop around & you’ll see if I’m expensive or not…”
Brits & Dutch are the only people that have questioned prices…as you say, the French know the going rate to a certain extent, & are happy to pay, if they feel it’s a good deal.
My French clients have always paid without issue.

I think you give us a very important observation and one which other Brits/English-speakers should remember if they are thinking of working in France.

Seems to me that folk would be best advised to learn French and aim at the French clients… taking on a few non-French, if they promise to behave. :wink::relaxed:


I’m interested in why you lost your clients in the US, Scandanavia & Europe when you moved to France Bob? - I work internationally too, and found that my UK work declined when I moved here, but work in other countries increased (one client, in Morocco, even employing me for the added value of my far-from-fluent French!).