Reader question: We are frequent visitors to France and my husband has a long-term health issue. Is it possible to have a mutuelle insurance policy for the costs that are not covered by the Ehic?
From our inquiries with several French insurers, it would not be possible as these policies are designed for people insured in the French system.
The Ehic system, which the UK still belongs to, allows reimbursement up to standard French healthcare rates for care that is ‘necessary’ during a trip, which can include care for pre-existing conditions.
This does not include the part of costs not reimbursed by the French state, called a ‘co-payment’ (the UK used to reimburse them but has not done so for several years).
The main options we identified to cover this cost are a general travel insurance policy including a suitable healthcare element, or a comprehensive healthcare policy. These could be obtained from a UK insurer or a French-based one serving international clients.
International insurance group Allianz said it would suggest its comprehensive Care international healthcare plan. However, a medical questionnaire is involved and pre-existing conditions can be subject to surcharges or exclusion.
Agence AXA International, an English speaking AXA agency in France, said one option is a policy “similar to travel insurance but designed for spending time in the Schengen area”. A spokeswoman said they can be taken for one entry of up to 90 days, multiple entries up to 90 days in 180 days, or an annual multi-trip policy.
They do not require a medical but are designed for urgent care. She said this broadly means something that cannot wait for you to go back to your usual home.
An annual multi-trip policy would be €298, regardless of age, she said.
They can also offer more comprehensive policies through partner companies. However, these require a questionnaire and in some cases cover can be refused.
The cost is also fairly high and increases with age. Another option is to buy a long stay travel insurance policy in the UK, she said.
An English-speaking AXA agent, for the Jean-Marie Lecomte agency, said they offer cover via April International for UK residents, but it “can be complicated” for those with serious medical problems.