[Article updated July 25 at 15:55 to reflect a confirmatory response from the NHS.]
Reader Question: We're resident in France thanks to the withdrawal agreement with an S1 that covers us both because my husband was old enough for one and I came in under his as his wife.
In October, I'm 66 – pensionable age – and will have to get my own S1 in my name. My question is, will my S1 still be a withdrawal agreement one or will my S1 be on the new rules, leaving me worse off than him, in the sense that I won't be able to use the NHS when we go back to the UK for weeks at a time?
An S1 form enables citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who are in receipt of a state pension in their country of origin to transfer their state health insurance entitlement to France.
The form represents an agreement from that country to pay social security contributions on your behalf so that you can access healthcare in France.
British retirees who were living in France before Brexit were, of course, also covered by the S1 system and those protected by the withdrawal agreement may continue to use it.
This means that if you already had an S1 before Brexit took effect, its terms will not change. However, it also means that if you were not yet eligible for the document before the transition period came to an end, your right to an S1 under the withdrawal agreement is maintained.
This is on the condition that you meet the criteria for obtaining a UK S1 prior to Brexit, and that you have not worked in France or worked long enough to qualify for a state pension here.
So, your new S1 should still entitle you to the same healthcare services as your husband.
The NHS’ Overseas Healthcare Services told The Connexion: "People who moved to the EU before 31 December 2020 will continue to have life-long reciprocal healthcare rights provided they remain covered under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. They will also be able to access the NHS free of charge in England, Scotland and Wales.
"If someone moved to the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein on or before 31 December 2020, they will continue to be entitled to free NHS healthcare in England and Wales. Their existing entitlement to free healthcare when visiting Scotland will also continue. They will still need to pay any statutory charges that residents of that country would pay, for example prescription charges."
Getting your new S1
The UK government states that: “If you are entitled to an S1 form as a dependent of a state pensioner, your health cover will be cancelled once you begin claiming your UK State Pension.
The NHS spokesperson said that people entitled to an S1 must apply for one through the NHSBSA (NHS Business Services Authority).
“You will be sent a new S1 form to your registered address from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services.
“You must register this form to ensure continuation of healthcare cover.”
S1 forms can be registered at your local CPAM office, Further information can be found here.
Retiring to France post-Brexit
People who retire to France post-Brexit are not covered by the withdrawal agreement, although they can still apply for an S1 if they have a UK state pension.
The difference is that this S1 does not automatically entitle people moving to France after Brexit to use the NHS if they spend time in the UK.
People already living in France before Brexit took effect can, on the other hand, can continue to use NHS services using their S1.
For further information on S1 forms you can contact the Overseas Healthcare Services department here.
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