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Why British people in France may not be able to vote in European elections

British people living in France are concerned they will not be able to vote in the European elections this week due to problems with both the French and UK authorities.

Why British people in France may not be able to vote in European elections
Photo: AFP
Electoral rolls in France
 
Britons who are already on the electoral  people who live in France and have the right to vote here are having difficulties. 
 
Some of them have found that despite already being on the French electoral register they have since been removed, meaning that they would not be able to vote in the election on Sunday when voters are set to head to the polls in France. 
 
A members of citizens rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) who investigated the issue said that this had been confirmed by the French authorities as illegal. 
 
So, if you were previously registered to vote in France and assumed you still would be you can check if you're on the electoral roll here
 
And if you find that you are no longer listed you can visit the Tribunal de Grande Instance (High Court) before Sunday they will have to add you back to the lists.
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
For many of the 300,000 Britons living in France, it was difficult to know whether to register to vote in the European elections at all what with the uncertainty over whether the UK would still be a member of the EU when voting time rolled around. 
 
The British government did not finally confirm that it would be taking part in the European elections until May 7, by which time the deadline to register in France had long passed, and there was less than 24 hours left to register in the UK.
 
However that isn't the view of France's top administrative court.
 
When the case of a British woman who was unable to register to vote in the upcoming European elections was taken to court, her lawyer argued that France should exceptionally have allowed Britons wanting to take part to register after the usual French closing date of March 31st. 
 
Barrister Julien Fouchet, who represented her, said that this would have been reasonable due to the fact that it was not clear before then whether Britain would still be in the EU during the elections. 
 
Originally Britain was expected to leave the EU on March 29th before that date was pushed back to April 12th then again to the current deadline of October 31st.
 
However the administrative court ruled that British people living in France should have been aware that Brexit might be put off and registered to vote in the European elections in France anyway.
 
This means that some British people in France will be left without a vote anywhere, which will no doubt come as a blow. 
 
French words to know: 
 
European elections – Élections européennes
 
Electoral roll – liste électorale
 
Vote – Une voix
 
Round of voting – Un vote

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HEALTH

Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?

France’s top-up health insurance 'mutuelles' have been getting steadily more expensive in 2020. Here’s a look at what’s changing, why and who is the worst affected.

Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?
A dentist is checking the teeth of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Paris. Photo: AFP

“The prices have never been so high in France,” said Fabien Soccio, spokesperson for the company Meilleure Assurance (Best Insurance).

His company this week revealed the results of a new study of France's private health insurance fees, mutuelles, to French media.

After comparing 55 different mutuelles health insurances, Meilleur Assurance concluded that there had been a general spike in the average cost.

What is a mutuelle?

France has generous state health care that covers a lot of medical expenses, but not all costs are reimbursed.

In France you pay upfront for your doctor's appointment, prescription or procedure and then the government reimburses the costs to you. Depending on the procedure and your situation, usually about 80-90 percent of the cost is reimbursed.

If that cost is a €25 appointment with your GP that's not such a big deal, but with more expensive treatments the costs can mount up, which is where a mutuelle comes in.

The mutuelle is a 'top-up' insurance – not obligatory, but recommended – which covers extra costs that are not covered by the state. How much a mutuelle covers will depend on the kind of insurance, where you live and the expenses in question.

If you are an employee, your employer must pay for at least half the cost of your mutuelle

Who was affected by the price increase?

The 2020 price hike touched the country as a whole, however some regions and population groups were harder hit than others, Soccio told Le Parisien.

To compare the costs for different socio-demographic groups, Meilleur Assurance created three different types of profiles; a 25-year-old employee with a “classic” mutuelle; a couple with two children, also on a “classic” mutuelle and a 60-year-old couple with “strengthened” guarantees in their mutuelle.

Seniors hardest hit

Retirees tend to go for fuller versions of mutuelles because these cover additional costs (such as dental and optical treatments). 

Seniors on extensive types of mutuelles were those suffering the steepest price increases this year, Soccio said. 

“In 2020, fifteen départements exceeded a threshold of €3,000 in annual fees for a senior couple with extra guarantees,” Soccio said.

“That’s an average increase of more than €176 in one year,” he said.

For the couple with a child, the increase was slighter ( an extra 4 percent), whereas the young employee saw health insurance bills largely unchanged.

READ ALSO Brexit: Do I need a mutuelle to get residency in France?

 

.. along with Parisians

The study also revealed large price differences between different regions, with inhabitants in the Paris region Ile-de-France paying the highest bills for their mutuelles.

A retired couple would pay on average €528 more if they lived in Paris compared to if they lived in a more rural, cheaper département like Mayenne.

Similarly, employees would pay 30 percent more on average in Paris than in Pays-de-la-Loire.

Parisians also saw the steepest price increases since last year, by 14.6 percent on average for the retired couple with a mutuelle covering extra costs.

On a national level, the average price increase for the same couple was 12.1 percent. 

.. but everyone was a little worse off

However the country as a whole saw a price increase last year, with even those opting for the cheapest kinds of health insurance affected by the general price hike.

In one year, from 2019 to 2020, the cheapest type of health insurance had increased by 13.7 percent, according to the study. 

Why the increase?

Prices generally increase a little every year, but this year was unusual, Soccio said.

“Today, we are in an uncertain and troubled situation,” he told Europe 1, listing several factors that had contributed to the price increase: the Covid-19 pandemic, the government's new health reform known as “100 percent Santé”, and a new health tax known as the “Covid surtax”.

When the French government presented their new budget for 2021, centred on their dazzling €100 billion relaunch plan, they promised not to increase taxes for the French. Instead, to top up their savings a little, the government introduced a new tax, the “Covid surtax”, which will be paid through the mutuelles and other health insurance companies.

This tax will provide €1 billion in total to the state in 2021, and €500 million in 2022, according to French media.

What about the future?

Soccio said he worried the trend of prices increasing would continue in the next couple of years, leading to steep prices for even those opting for the cheaper mutuelles.

“It's safe to bet that the national average costs will pass €3,000 in the next two years,” he told Le Parisien.

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