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Can visitors to France have a mutuelle top-up policy?

We look at the health insurance options that are available to you as a visitor to France

If you are not part of the French healthcare system, are mutuelle top-up policies available to you? Pic: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Reader question: We are frequent visitors to France and my husband has a long-term health issue. Is it possible to have a mutuelle insurance policy for the costs that are not covered by the Ehic?

From our inquiries with several French insurers, it would not be possible as these policies are designed for people insured in the French system. 

The Ehic system, which the UK still belongs to, allows reimbursement up to standard French healthcare rates for care that is ‘necessary’ during a trip, which can include care for pre-existing conditions. 

This does not include the part of costs that is not reimbursed by the French state, called a ‘co-payment’ (the UK used to reimburse these but has not done so for several years now). 

The main options we identified to cover this cost are a general travel insurance policy including a suitable healthcare element, or a comprehensive healthcare policy. 

These could be obtained from a UK insurer or a French-based one serving international clients. 

Read more: What medical insurance should I get to visit my second home in France?

International insurance group Allianz said it would suggest its comprehensive Care international healthcare plan. 

However, a medical questionnaire is involved and pre-existing conditions can be subject to surcharges or exclusion. 

Agence AXA International, an English speaking AXA agency in France, said one option is a policy “similar to travel insurance but designed for spending time in the Schengen area”. 

A spokeswoman said they can be taken for one entry of up to 90 days, multiple entries up to 90 days in 180 days, or an annual multi-trip policy. 

They do not require a medical but are designed for urgent care. 

She said this broadly means something that cannot wait for you to go back to your usual home. 

An annual multi-trip policy would be €298, regardless of age, she said. 

They can also offer more comprehensive policies through partner companies. 

However, these require a questionnaire and in some cases cover can be refused. 

The cost is also fairly high and increases with age. 

Another option is to purchase a long stay travel insurance policy in the UK, she said. 

Read more: Can I get insurance on long-term visa in France?

An English-speaking AXA agent, for the Jean-Marie Lecomte agency in Normandy, said they offer cover via April International for UK residents, but it “can be complicated” for those with serious medical problems. 

The Connexion did however identify two agencies offering a form of ‘mutuelle’ to second-home owners who are on temporary long-stay visas for an extended (but not permanent) trip. 

Generali France’s Agence Eaton in Arradon, Brittany, offers top-up health insurance for those in the UK system with an Ehic or Ghic and a long-stay visa. 

However, it could not estimate the price, saying it varies, depending on personal factors. Swiss Life France’s Bordeaux agency says it, too, offers health insurance topping up the part of costs not reimbursed under the Ehic/Ghic if UK residents declare they are living in France for a fixed time on a long-term visa.

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