This week's throwback Thursday takes us back ten years, with a post from 16 December 2007
The French government has finally issued a definitive statement on the subject of access to the state health system by non-working EU nationals. The actual statement concerns health issues indirectly, but is really intended to lay down rules under which it is legal to stay in France. The underlying thing is and has always been that it is necessary for any would-be resident not to become a burden on the state – at least not before they have lawfully lived in the country continuously for five years and are thus able to apply for permanent resident status. To avoid becoming a burden on the state it is necessary to show adequate means of support and comprehensive medical insurance.
Until very recently it has been unlawful to have comprehensive medical insurance other than through the state system. This is a contributory system costing a percentage of taxable earnings. The state system covers a proportion of all medical costs – variable but, for most things, 65% – and it is common to buy top-up insurance to cover the deficit.
Immigrants from EU member states who are not yet in receipt of a state pension from their country of origin and have lived in France for less than five years fall into three broad categories:
- working – fully covered by employer and employee or self-employed contributions to state medical cover
- covered by form E106 – this form, issued by the DWP based on your previous two years’ NI contributions, essentially means that the UK fund will cover the costs recoverable from the French health system for up to two years after your arrival in France (the forms always expire in early January). Top-up cover is still needed. In practice, the UK government pays to the French government an agreed amount per E106 form issued – I seem to recall seeing a figure of a touch over 3000€ pa mentioned.
- E106 expired or never issued. This group will need to buy private comprehensive medical insurance. Because that kind of cover has not been legally available for some time, there is not yet a mature market and, if you have any pre-existing conditions, you could be stuffed. It is unlikely that anything resulting from them would be insurable
There are special circumstances under which people in group 3 can be covered by the state system but these are exceptional.
Once in receipt of a state pension, form E121 is issued. This works the same as E106 but is not time-limited in the same way. [note – both forms now replaced by form S1]
We now know that we shall need private insurance from 8th January and we have gone out for quotes. Because I was diagnosed with high blood pressure over a decade ago – nicely controlled with medication, thanks – it is possible that they will seek to exclude cover for anything that could result from it. That could be a serious stumbling block, as the cost of dealing with things like strokes would be very high and, if it is not possible to obtain insurance against that eventuality …
[A subsequent decision stated that people in group 3 who were in the state system at 23rd November 2007 were able to stay in. Yup, that meant us.]
Still on things medical, spare a thought for Flash. He is going in very early on Tuesday morning for some dental work.
Not very much happened this week otherwise. We have both signed up to Facebook and are making good use of it – Adam and Tania are both on there as are a bevy of brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces.
We met up with a group of people yesterday – largely UK expatriates but with a good number of French mixed in – for the Christmas luncheon of an English club that has been running in the Montluçon area, in one form or another, for about 27 years. It seems to be a relatively loosely structured thing – they meet in a hostelry three evenings each month. Two are English evenings and one French. It is a drop-in kind of arrangement with two rules:
- On English evenings only English is spoken, on French evenings only French is spoken
- Everyone buys their own drinks
I think the aim is to have English conversation for the benefit of French people trying to improve their English and French conversation for the benefit of English people trying to improve their French. We may drop from time to time, although it is still our intention not to become part of an English community.
Oh – I almost forgot. I had a fascinating session with HMRC during the week. I called the number given on the HMRC website for tax affairs for non-residents. The response message gave three choices, of which ‘press 2′ was if I wanted to find out the progress and status of a P85 (last mentioned by me on May 13th). As this would tell me what I needed to know about the state of my request to leave the UK system, I duly pressed 2. There followed an announcement to the effect that they could not give that information, but suggested an alternative number to call. I called the alternative number – they had no record of me. Not surprising, really, as it was the self-assessment help line that I had been directed to! The young lady was very helpful and suggested another number I could try. BINGO! The young lady there knew all about me and at first told me that there is another form needed and it is very bad that no-one had told me about it before. “Is that the one I fill in in English and French and pass to the tax office here, which they then add to and send back to you?”, I asked. She replied in the affirmative. On looking, she was able to tell me not only that they have actually had everything they need since late September, but also that it might be looked at in six weeks’ time! Apparently they have a backlog. I suggested that might be the result of having for Prime Minister a control freak who still runs the Treasury and changes the rules every other day. I now believe that, the humorectomy operation (surgical removal of the sense of humour) that was so successfully pioneered with Post Office Counters staff is now being rolled out to all government departments. But it does suggest that I may get some action before I have to do my next French tax return!
Finally, I have removed the link to the Guest Book from www.beaugut.com – with a couple of notable exceptions neither the physical guest book in the lounge, nor the one on the web site are very much used. Rather than attempt to browbeat people into using one or both of them, I have decided to take the line of least resistance. That way, prospective visitors won’t look at a guest book and get the impression no-one ever comes to see us.
I think that is all for now. Enjoy the preparations for Christmas.