Early retirees may no longer be entitled to free and subsidized health care in France, according to a recent announcement by the DHS. The new ruling, expected to come into force from April 2014,  will mean that those who have not yet reached the official retirement age will need to take out private medical insurance, including a ‘mutuelle‘.

In an attempt to prevent what is being tagged as ‘health tourism’, the government also plans to charge ex pats traveling back to the UK for medical care, believed to cost the NHS around £200 million a year.

Whilst this new ruling is mainly aimed at stopping abuse of the NHS such as heavily pregnant ladies arriving ‘on holiday’ and just happening to give birth whilst in the UK, or foreign businesspeople or holiday makers just suddenly happening to fall ill in a country which offers free medical care, it will nevertheless have an impact on ex pats.

At present, according to a rule which is rarely applied, pensioners should not live abroad more than 3 months in any year if they wish to qualify for free health treatment on trips back to the UK.

Under the new ruling, ex pat retirees from the UK who live abroad for more than half the year will be denied free treatment,  despite having paid tax and National Insurance in the UK,  and only emergencies such as heart attacks, accidents or genuine sudden illness will be treated free of charge.

Ex pat retirees returning to the UK to live permanently will qualify for free medical care..

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