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British pensioners in France urged not to panic after Brexit healthcare 'betrayal'

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British pensioners in France urged not to panic after Brexit healthcare 'betrayal'
Photo: AFP
11:43 CEST+02:00
The announcement that the British government will cover pensioners' healthcare costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit has sparked anger and confusion in France, but campaigners spell out why there's no need to panic. Yet.
The pledge to cover healthcare costs for those on the S1 scheme for six months after a no-deal was labelled a "massive betrayal of Brits in Europe" and "a travesty of justice".
 
Kalba Meadows from France Rights campaign group told the Local: "People really need to stand up and protest this - we need to see and hear an outcry of anger.
 
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"I've been through a rollercoaster of emotions in the last three years but this has made me more angry than anything else because it's targeting the most vulnerable.
 
The pledge also includes a warning that British pensioners in the EU must register for healthcare locally within six months of the UK's departure.
 
As well as causing much anger the UK government's announcement has also caused confusion among British pensioners in France and left more questions unanswered.
 
This is partly due to the fact that the French government has already passed a law that guarantees health cover for Brits in France for two years in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Although that decree is dependent on Britain providing reciprocal treatment to French in the UK.
 
France Rights Meadows says: "We don't know how those two things - the UK statement and the French ordonnance - tie up."
 
"We don't know - and this is really important - whether the UK government is continuing to seek permanent bilateral agreements on health care with the various EU Member States that would continue reciprocal health care arrangements on an ongoing basis.

"We don't know whether France is likely to reduce its two years health care cover in the light of the UK statement.

"We don't know exactly what S1 holders in France will be required to do - will they have to make an application to join PUMa, and if so when? Or will the switch, if and when there is one, happen automatically?

"And we still don't know whether, under the health care provisions of the ordonnance, cotisations to PUMa and/or social charges on pension income would be payable.

"In other words, we don't know very much at all!"
 
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But Meadows says despite the anger many people will have, for the moment there is no need to panic.
 
"First of all, if there IS a deal, reciprocal health care for life is included and your S1 rights will continue without interruption.
 
"And secondly, if there is no deal, and even if the S1 scheme falls away after six months or after December 31st 2020, those of us in France are relatively lucky, as everyone who has lived here legally for at least there months is eligible to join the universal health care system, PUMa."
 
You can find more details on the PUMa system here.
 
Justine Wallington from Remain in France Together (RIFT) said the announcement was "cruel" but believed it was posturing by the British government.
 
She told The Local: "We are being used again but I don't think there's any substance in this - yet more posturing.
 
"British residents in France should be confident they will have ongoing medical care whatever happens." 
 
Mike Harlow from RIFT added: "We have contacted the embassy to see if this is now government policy rather than previous statements they have made."
 
The UK government said letters will soon be sent out to the 180,000 citizens in the EU on the S1 scheme.
 
The letter will inform them of "the necessary steps they need to take, which include registering for residency and applying for local healthcare schemes".
 
The UK government said: "To access this support after the UK leaves the EU, people should contact the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS-BSA) to provide them with the healthcare provider’s details, so that the BSA can arrange for the healthcare provider to invoice the UK Government directly."
 
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Andrew Theaker - 24 Sep 2019 09:55
While I think I understand the inter reaction between Carte Vitale and Mutuelles I do not understand where PUM (previously CMU?) comes into the equation. Any helpful suggestions?
Andrew Theaker
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