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Why did UK and EU retirees in France get back CSS health top-up?

The refusal policy was reversed this year, giving back free or subsidised healthcare to S1 pensioners

The European Com­mission’s view was that CSS should be provided to EU and UK pensioners who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and have an S1 Pic: Quinta / Shutterstock

A new analysis of EU social security rules, especially ECJ case law, was behind France’s recent decision to restore access to the CSS health top-up to UK and EU pensioners. 

We highlighted the problems last year after readers contacted us following France’s decision, in spring 2022, to stop giving complémentaire santé solidaire (CSS) to S1 holders, based on a strict interpretation of sections of the French social security code.

CSS gives free or low-cost top-ups to people on low incomes.

Read more: Explainer: the CSS, France’s free or low cost top-up health insurance

UK ‘new-comers’ to France can apply for CSS

French social security authority the Direction de la sécurité sociale (DSS) has now confirmed to us that ‘in-depth’ legal analysis of EU law was the reason for France reversing last year’s policy.

It confirmed that this includes British S1 holders, based on social security coordination rules in the Withdrawal Agree­ment (WA). 

It also applies to UK ‘new-comers’, based on the Trade and Co­operation Agree­ment, the DSS confirms.

We do not know if this resulted specifically from inquiries we made with the European Com­mission from September 2022, including asking if the French policy complied with EU free movement rules. 

The Rift group for Britons’ rights also reports discussing the issue with the European Commission last November. 

Read more: Free health top-up scheme reinstated for S1 holders in France

EU found CSS benefit must be reinstated

An EU official said: “Fol­lowing the journalist’s inquiry, the Com­mission contacted the relevant French authorities in De­cember 2022. 

“The Com­mission’s view was that CSS should be provided to EU and UK citizens, covered by the WA, who are registered for healthcare in France based on the S1 form.

“In their reply, the French authorities acknowledged that granting the CSS had been temporarily suspended in spring 2022 but confirmed that the CSS is a benefit coordinated under Regulation 883/2004 and is therefore provided to both EU and UK citizens (covered by the WA) with an S1.”

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Can I renounce French pension to obtain benefits of S1 health form?

Explainer: French healthcare terms that are useful to know

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