Reader Question: What are the options for second-home owners who want to spend several months at their home in France in relation to healthcare? I understand a Ghic covers us for emergency treatment but what about for regular medical issues - is there insurance available for this scenario? We are not in theory ‘travelling’ so don’t know if travel insurance is the right policy.
The Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic), and the European Health Insurance Card (Ghic) which it replaced in the UK apart from for people covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, cover slightly more than ‘emergency’ treatment.
These free cards give holders access to ‘medically necessary state-provided healthcare’ while in the EU.
“Medically necessary healthcare means healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK,” the NHS states.
This includes things like trips to A&E, treatment for a long-term or pre-existing medical conditions, routine care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring, routine maternity care, oxygen therapy and kidney dialysis.
What is not covered by a Ghic / Ehic?
However, the cards do not cover all healthcare (for example in some private clinics), nor do they cover death or medical repatriation costs.
The cover is also equivalent to what a French patient would obtain from their basic state cover, meaning GP visits for example, if they fall within ‘necessary treatment’, cost €25 of which 70% is covered.
The UK government encourages visitors to the EU to take out travel insurance as well, which may cover scenarios such as repatriation, treatment at private hospitals or rescue from a ski accident and may ‘top-up’ the part of French care not covered by the Ehic/Ghic system.
It is possible to take out long-stay travel insurance, covering visits of a month or more, or annual cover for several, shorter trips.
How to find a relevant insurance company?
The UK government’s MoneyHelper site offers a list of specialist firms offering travel insurance. You can narrow down your search by specifying your age and the length of your stay, with some providers offering cover for six months or more.
The directory is designed to help people who have a serious medical condition and find it difficult to find an insurance provider who will not exclude the condition from cover, but even if this is not your case, it will allow you to identify some of the companies offering long-stay insurance.
Other companies not included on the list also offer long-stay insurance for a more general clientele. Axa’s Europe Travel insurance offers cover for up to six months, for example. Premium credit cards also often offer some form of travel health insurance to cardholders.
The type of cover you opt for may also depend on the length of your stay.
For visits of up to six months, a valid Ehic or Ghic card is the key element and is, for example, accepted for healthcare purposes by the French visa services in the UK for people applying for temporary long-stay visas for up to six months. Even so, as mentioned above, you are still advised to take out additional insurance for elements not covered by the basic French system.
For stays of more than six months, you will need to show evidence of comprehensive private health insurance covering the whole proposed duration of your visa as part of your application.