Can over-70s get health insurance?
My husband and I have a holiday home in France where we would like to spend up to five consecutive months each year. We are over 70 and one of us has a medical condition common to many older people. Do you know of any insurers who specialise in medical cover for second home owners or who would cover us for this period? I have only been able to find cover for 90 days and at a very high premium. Name supplied
Paulette Booth, Senior International Client Manager at Agence Axa International (axa-in-france.fr) replies: Firstly, you need to make sure you have an up-to-date European Health Insurance Card, commonly known as an EHIC card. [These will remain in use until Brexit; negotiations on reciprocal healthcare are yet to be finalised.]
You can learn about the EHIC and how to apply or renew on the NHS website which states: “A valid EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.” Find out more at nhs.uk/ using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-afree-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/
While this cover gives you access to stateprovided healthcare during a temporary stay, the treatment and refund will be on the same basis as it would be for a resident in that country. Most healthcare in France is refunded at around 70% of the base de remboursement (less for dental and optical). This is the limit set by l’assurance Maladie for the cost of treatment. Some consultants and procedures will cost more than the base de remboursement.
On this basis, you will need to cover an average of 30% of the cost of treatment yourself for any treatment in France.
To bridge this gap, insurance companies offer an EHIC top-up policy. Agence AXA International’s policy, for example, has no exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions and there is no upper age limit. The policy also covers repatriation and funeral expenses in the unfortunate event these are required. You can set the policy up for the five months you will be in France. If you decide to stay an extra month or so the policy can easily be extended. Each time you are staying at your holiday home you can arrange the EHIC top-up policy. If you prefer a longer term or a more permanent solution, you can also consider a stand-alone annual private healthcare policy. As this cover is arranged for the whole year it is more expensive, and there may be age restrictions. In your circumstances, the EHIC top-up sounds like the best solution, while the UK is part of the EU/EEA.