Expats Urged to Review Their Healthcare Coverage

Expatriates throughout the world are being encouraged to check that their current health insurance is adequate for their needs, after changes introduced in two popular expat destinations mean that expats may no longer be entitled to access to health services in these countries.

Recent changes in the health policies in place in France and Spain mean that expatriates living in these destinations may no longer be entitled to access to the public health services that were once available. For example, expatriates in France who have not made a contribution to the healthcare system in the form of tax or social security payments will no longer be provided with free care, regardless of whether they are EU nationals or not.

The changes have been introduced as a result of the French government’s concerns that too many expatriates who have not worked in France and therefore who haven’t contributed to the system are taking advantage of the country’s healthcare system. The new legislation means that European Union nationals under the state retirement age of 60 will no longer be eligible to free healthcare in France if they are not registered to work and will therefore need to arrange separate health insurance to cover the cost of any care they need while living in the country. Expats who have recently retired and who have been paying UK national insurance will continue to be provided with free healthcare in France up to a maximum period of two years.

Discussing the changes, David Retikin, director of operations at Pryce Warner International Group, urged people moving overseas to review the state healthcare options available to them: “Many countries have fantastic healthcare systems but do not offer as easy access to expats as to nationals. This means that expats often need medical insurance to top up what is offered by the local system.

“In France this ‘top up’ will now need to be fully comprehensive cover for expats to have complete peace of mind,” he said.

For a comprehensive view of worldwide healthcare systems and access to expatriates, see our free guide to the world’s best healthcare.