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Modifications to the European Health Insurance card system

You probably have received, or should have received, a letter and application form from the Overseas Healthcare Team, Dept of Works & Pensions (DWP), Tyne View Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE98 1BA (Tel. 0191 218 1999) entitled: “About the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from 1 May 2010”. For some of you it will involve a procedural change, but should definitely not be a cause for concern as it in no way affects your Healthcare rights within the EU, the EEA and Switzerland. The changes discussed below have come about as a result of the European Union’s updating and re-issue, with effect from 1 May 2010, of regulation (EC) no. 883/2004, which coordinates Member States’ social security systems and aims to facilitate the movement of all European citizens within the EU. It will, furthermore, serve to reinforce co-operation on a variety of fronts in the field of social security, including healthcare, between the relevant administrative bodies of Member States.

Other Changes

Another change made on 1 May 2010 is the grouping together of the former E-Forms (E106, E109, and E121) into a single group called S1 - this is only a change of name, not a change of function.  

UK/S1 Holders


One administrative aspect of these changes involves those UK Expats and their family health beneficiaries, resident in France, who have registered their EC health form S1 with their CPAM. Previously , when they went on holiday or on business trips outside France, they used the Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie (CEAM), which was  issued by CPAM and gave access to State healthcare should it become necessary due to illness, accident or emergency during a visit to another country within the EU, EEA and Switzerland. The CEAM will cease to be issued to these UK/S1 holders, who ( once they have registered their S1 at CPAM) should then receive the above mentioned application form for a UK/EHIC and which will fulfill the same function as the CEAM. If you do not receive this application from DWP, then you need to ask for it. The DWP answerphone currently states that the issue of an EHIC takes 28 days!

Each person, including children, requires an EHIC.

Reimbursements for UK/S1 Holders
For any reimbursements which may be due as a result of using your EHIC, you must now submit claims to the DWP Overseas   Healthcare Team. When visiting the UK, if you go for treatment in an NHS hospital, make sure you take your EHIC for presentation, otherwise you can be charged.      
Those UK Expats resident in France not affected by the change
Those resident in France and affiliated to French Social Security are issued with a CEAM card for use when they go on holiday or business trips outside France but within the EU/EEA/Switzerland, for example: employed or self-employed workers in France, those in receipt of basic CMU or a French State pension.  When visiting the UK, if you go for treatment in an NHS hospital, make sure you take your CEAM card for presentation, otherwise you can be charged.
UK Expats who stop working in France 
If you stop working in France and you receive your UK State Retirement Pension and consequently an S1, this change of situation must be notified to CPAM orRSI ( as the case may be). Your CEAM would cease to be valid and you then need to apply for a UK/EHIC.
Period of Validity
The EHIC is valid for 3 or 5 years. The CEAM is only valid for 1 year. It is vital to check that you hold a current and valid card.
DWP Letter Accompanying the Granting of your UK/S1
The above letter contains the following instruction: "EHIC's issued by the UK authorities to you and any dependant family member are no longer valid and should be returned to: European Health Insurance Cards, Sandyford House, Archbold Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1BF England. Once you register your S1, you and your family members will be sent forms to apply for a new EHIC."
Expiry of UK/S1

If your UK/S1 has expired, you are not entitled to carry on using a UK/EHIC containing a later date of expiry on it. If you do use such a UK/EHIC, you run the risk of being charged in full for treatment. There have been instances where the UK has been asked to confirm entitlement and DWP has had to advise that the person had no entitlement, despite having an apparently valid ( but actually invalid) EHIC. In particular some hospital authorities are nervous about accepting a UK/EHIC, where heavily expensive treatment costs are involved and may contact DWP for verification.

Travel Insurance
The  DWP Overseas Healthcare Team advise that you should take out private travel insurance before you visit another country, regardless of whether or not you are covered by an EHIC as the latter does not cover you for all contingencies, for example it does not cover  for repatriation.
We are greatly indebted to the U.K. Pension Service for their invaluable advice and assistance in the provision of information for this article. As always, during the introduction of a new scheme of this nature, there will be problems of interpretation and procedure. Please inform us of any difficulties that you may personally encounter during this modification process and, of course, we will endeavour to keep you informed of any further changes as rapidly as possible.
If you would like any further advice or assistance in this matter, please feel free to contact :

Tel: +33(0) 494 403 145