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Questions raised over OAP healthcare in no-deal

Questions have again been raised over access to healthcare for British retirees living in France in the case of a no-deal Brexit. It comes after the UK government put out no-deal advice for Britons abroad in the EU stating that “you may need to buy healthcare insurance in the country you live in so you can receive the healthcare treatment you need”.

If you are a British pensioner in France with a serious health condition and for whom your healthcare cover is vital for you to remain in France we invite you to contact us at

At present British state pensioners in France have European S1 forms that entitle them to membership of the French health service, under normal conditions, with the costs being reimbursed to France by the UK. However the S1 is an EU scheme and British S1s would cease to be valid after March 29 if there is no-deal.

The deal negotiated by the UK and EU provided that healthcare of pensioners living in EU states would continue after Brexit under the same terms as before however nothing is so far in place in the case of no-deal.

The UK already stated last year that in the case of no-deal it is ready to enter into bilateral agreements with EU countries on healthcare of their respective pensioners, however so far none has been signed with two months to go until the intended Brexit date.

If nothing is ready then it would be down to France to decide how to proceed, for example to confirm that British pensioners may remain in France with healthcare via Puma (protection universelle maladie). Puma means that those legally resident in France are entitled to healthcare, via at an annual fee of 8% of income from capital above a certain ceiling. The latter fee (cotisation subsidiaire maladie) does not usually concern those who have healthcare via work, though it may be payable by those with very low incomes from part-time work.

If this was not possible then pensioners would be left with the option of taking out a ‘comprehensive’ private policy, however these are costly and usually exclude pre-existing illnesses. 

We are seeking further clarifications on how France is approaching this, however an Interior Ministry source has referred us to wording on the site of the European social security advisory body Cleiss, which says that in the absence of other measures the usual French rules would apply, meaning that if someone is legally resident they could benefit from healthcare via the Protection Maladie Universelle and / or the CMU-C scheme for those on the lowest incomes (the latter pays for healthcare completely, with no need for a top-up mutuelle).

The source recalled to us also France's recent statement that it would aim (assuming similar protection is given to the French in the UK, which the UK says it will do) to allow Britons in France to retain legal residency for one year after a no-deal Brexit, during which time they should apply for a carte de séjour. It follows logically that Britons could if necessary obtain healthcare on residence grounds without having to have a carte de séjour immediately to prove their legal residency (showing their British passport may be enough). We are also asking Europe Ministry, which has taken the lead on the Brexit negotiations, for further clarification of what is planned.

The recent law passed by France giving the government special powers to pass laws by order dealing with a no-deal Brexit said its aims would include helping Britons legally established in France before Brexit to stay and clarifying their rights to be covered by social security.  An order on Britons' rights in the event of no-deal is expected in coming weeks.

Potential problems with pensioner healthcare were already flagged up last summer after several pensioners were told their S1s would run out after Brexit.

French senators noted also last year that in a no-deal situation EU ‘social security coordination’ would end and measures would have to be taken, possibly including charging Britons in France for healthcare if the UK is no longer paying for them.

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