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Healthcare access: your experiences

Connexion would like to hear from readers as talks continue between France and the EU on early-retirees' right to CMU

OFFICIALS who liaise between France and the European Commission have said they will clarify shortly to Connexion where matters stand two years on from the publication of a French circular that was supposed to resolve problems surrounding access to healthcare for early retiree expats in France.

A spokeswoman for the French Permanent Representation to the EU – an interministerial team headed by a representative of ambassadorial status – said she would speak to her superiors and give Connexion “a detailed response”.

The issue surrounds the way France treats early retirees from other EU countries such as the UK. Before changes in 2007 these were all able to join the French health reimbursements system through a scheme called the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU); however access was then made difficult until people either start to draw a state old age pension or have spent five years in France.

Since then, newcomers are expected to take out comprehensive private insurance once any temporary cover from the country of origin runs out (around two years at most); which may not be possible for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Questions were raised over whether this breaches EU free movement rules.

Connexion was told by the European Commission in 2011 that it had initiated infringement proceedings against France on this subject. France then published a circular in summer 2011 clarifying its position – which did not appear to make any significant changes - and the commission said it would assess how expats were treated in practice afterwards.

In response to our latest enquiries the commission’s social affairs press spokesman said they were still in close touch with the French authorities. He said: “They (France) have acknowledged that there are problems concerning access for nationals of other EU member countries to healthcare in France and have informed the commission that they are putting in place solutions to prevent these problems occurring in the future.”

Connexion is seeking further clarification from the commission and the permanent representation as to what this means in detail. One issue identified with the 2011 circular was that it allowed CPAMs discretion to give access to the CMU to expats where they were unable to have private insurance due to unexpected circumstances - however this appeared to be similar to the concept of a “life accident”, which appeared in a previous circular dated November 2007. The latter was France’s first attempt to clear problems up after an initial decision to cancel – without warning – healthcare rights for early retirees.

We would like to know if you are affected by this issue. Did you move here as an early-retiree and seek to join the CMU - and were you accepted? Did you have to prove an unexpected misfortune to gain access? Have you wanted to come to live in France but have been put off by uncertainty about your healthcare rights after cover under an S1 runs out?

Please contact us in confidentiality at: news[at]connexionfrance.com

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