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Can an Irish early-retiree join Puma?

I am a retired Irish citizen and will be retiring to France – I’m an ‘early retiree’ so don’t have a state pension or S1 form yet. Will I be able to join the French Puma healthcare system?  H.S.

Luckily for you, as an Irish citizen, the uncertainties of Brexit do not apply.

However, the general situation for the healthcare of EU citizen early-retirees in France remains a grey area.

This is because early-retirees fall into a gap between workers, who obtain their healthcare from the cotisations they pay on work income, and EU state pensioners with S1s, who are paid for by their home country.

EU free movement rules in theory make living in another EU country for less than five years conditional on having healthcare cover of some kind, so France has encouraged early-retirees to take out comprehensive private policies.

According to the rules, for EU early-retirees to move to residency-based healthcare via Puma, they should show an unexpected change in circumstances making it difficult for them to be covered privately.

Reasons could be a drop in income due to a divorce or widowhood, or a sudden illness.

In practice, Connexion has not heard in recent years of anyone turned down for entry if they have made the request. This changed some years ago after all applications from EU early-retirees were centralised in Nîmes.

On coming to France, you could consider taking out a full private policy in the first instance or relying on just the European Ehic.

The Interior Ministry states on its website for newcomers that the latter is accepted as proof of health cover in the first year of coming (tinyurl.com/y5yfhyuk).

You could then apply for Puma.

Note, however, that you will be asked about your means and you are unlikely to be accepted if your income is less than the RSA income support benefit (or Aspa for those who are aged 65 or more), currently €560/month for a single person (€840/month a couple).

There may be an annual payment levied to belong to Puma but under the latest rules it is only payable where you have substantial income from investments, rents and/or private pensions.

In that case, it is payable at 6.5% of such incomes after the first €20,262 a year.

Where both members of a couple are eligible to be assessed for this cotisation, the €20,262 is applied individually to each member’s part of household income over the threshold.

This is calculated at 50% if a more precise share-out is not clear.

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