CHANGES to the French health system announced on Friday (December 14) will see many people now remain in the system, although there are still some facing uncertain times.
The heath authorities have said that people who are considered "inactive" and currently registered within the CMU will continue to receive cover, but lobby group French Health Issues has warned that an estimated 3,000 people whose E106 cover is due to expire in January may yet face difficulties.
Deborah Dudley, of French Health Issues, said: "It is still not clear how those who rely on regular medication and treatment, such as people suffering from diabetes, hypertension, asthma and the like, will be treated under the new rules; nor, those who are about to have surgery and major operations for life-threatening conditions.
"They face an uncertain future until this is fully resolved. There appears to be some hope for them, but the details are still vague and with around just ten working days to go before their E106s expire, this is still not good enough.
"The European legislation is also clear in that member states must publicise any changes to laws which could affect Union members, in good time, and through the proper channels. Clearly, an announcement made on December 14, which begins to take effect on January 6, contravenes this law, if nothing else.
"We also continue to contest the validity of the way in which the French authorities interpreted the legislation in the first place. The rule being used to introduce these changes, only specifies the necessity for 'comprehensive sickness insurance'. We still believe that it is possible to comply with this by contributing to the French state system."
A British Embassy update on health changes late last week was the explanation that many people had been waiting for since notice was given by the French authorities earlier this year that it intended to make inactive members of the EU living in France fund their own health cover.
At first it looked like thousands of people who were below retirement age, but not working, would have to take up private cover, with many wondering how they would be able to afford insurance plans or gain cover for pre-existing conditions.
But as pressure grew from expats, who gained the support of politicians from France, the UK and Europe, it became apparent that the Health Ministry was prepared to look again at the rules, culminating in the recent announcement and which can be broadly summarised as:
- All those currently affiliated to the CMU will be allowed to continue to contribute to, and benefit from it.
- All those who have lived legally in France for five years will be allowed to join the CMU, and will enjoy all the same benefits as their French counterparts in the same position.
- Those who have chronic or pre-existing conditions which prevent them from obtaining private health insurance, may appeal for entry into the CMU.
The British Embassy is to continue discussions with the health authorities to work on a solution for holders of an E106 set to end soon, and Deborah Dudley says their own work is not over yet either.
"We are committed to continuing our fight, until there is justice, in healthcare terms, for all citizens throughout the union, which was surely the spirit of the legislation which is now being used in France to such negative effect," she said.
How have these changes impacted upon your decision to retire to France, have they put the brake on your move? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Update (24/01/08): French health cover worries lifted for many