Threat to early- retiree healthcare

UK government claims to have consulted widely on plan to axe the S1 form for early-retirees

10 October 2013

SEVERAL readers have contacted Connexion concerned about a new threat to healthcare funding for early-retiree Britons in France via the ending of the S1 European health form.

The UK’s Department of Health put forward proposals inside a long consultation document in July that would stop S1 forms – used to access French healthcare – being issued to early-retirees from April 1, 2014.

It called for comments by August 28, 2013, and stated it would inform and seek opinions from members of the public and interested bodies and organisations.

The S1 gives people who have made recent National Insurance contributions in the UK up to two-and-a-half years of healthcare in France funded by the UK. It is the same as the one used by British state pensioners to access healthcare in France under reciprocal European Social Security rules.

Due to France’s position since 2007 on early-retirees from other EU states – who may be obliged to have private health insurance until they have been in France for five years – most early-retirees have been relying on a period of S1 cover.

The European Commission considers that France may be in infringement of its free movement rules if it continues to apply this policy, however for the time being the matter is not fully resolved, meaning S1s remain a key part of people’s plans for moving to and living in France.

However, the UK now says it has found that it may be exceeding its strict obligations to the EU in giving S1s to early-retirees. It therefore proposes to “cease the funding of initial healthcare costs for early retirees.”

The idea is part of a long document on money-saving ideas – which also include asking to pay EU partner states 5% less for British pensioners’ healthcare on the understanding that the pensioners can go back to the UK for some of their healthcare if they wish. The UK thinks this will save it money because it believes some people are already going back for healthcare and are not always being picked up as being non-residents.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The announcement of the consultation was issued to all national, regional and trade media and posted on our website. We also informed all EU member states that the consultation was taking place and have received responses from other countries. At present we are unable to comment further on the outcome of the consultation and any future policy announcements.”

As stated, the proposal is now closed for comment. We would like to ask other readers who had heard about it this summer to let us know how. Please email us at news[at]connexionfrance.com

We believe issues such as this would be better flagged up – and debated - if the UK had a dedicated MP, preferably several, to represent its expatriates as several other countries, including France, do.

We therefore invite readers who are British citizens or residents of the UK to sign this petition to the government. If the petition reaches 10,000 the government will publish a reply. Please note that some people have found that if you insert a French postcode the form is not accepted. We therefore suggest you leave this section blank.

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