No obligation to pay contested ‘Puma’ bills

British state pensioners who have recently contested a payment demand sent to them by Urssaf towards their French healthcare rights will NOT face any penalties for missing a deadline this Friday, Connexion has been told.

Connexion has been speaking to Acoss, the national body for the Urssaf network, after reader Frank Wilding, 84, from Menton in the Alpes-Maritimes contacted us alerting us to a bill for more than €5,000 for himself and his wife Josephine. He said he had contested it but has had no reply from his Urssaf yet.

The bill relates to a cotisation for ‘Puma’, the state system of healthcare on residence grounds which has replaced the former CMU de base scheme. Certain groups such as early-retirees or some part-time workers may legitimately have to make an annual payment into the system to have French healthcare rights, however British or other EU retirees with the European S1 form – whose healthcare is paid for by the country paying their pension – should not.

It is not clear how widespread the problem is, which comes in the first year of ‘Puma’ payment demands, however a number of British retirees in France last year reported concern after receiving letters from Urssaf warning that such a cotisation might be payable. At the time Acoss confirmed to Connexion that the letters were from the Urssafs and advised that people could contact their branch to clarify their situation if they had concerns that they should not apply to them.

An Acoss spokeswoman stated officially today that if you have contested a bill on grounds of being a British retiree – for example you have sent a letter to your Urssaf but have not yet had a reply – you should not fear any penalties for non-payment by the deadline (which in many cases is Friday January 19) as long as your situation with regard to the payment has not yet been clarified by your Urssaf.

It is therefore not necessary to pay the bill and request repayment later out of fear of penalties.

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