In order for us to establish ourselves as expats, we need to show 1) proof of enough dough to support ourselves and 2) proof of health insurance. As you may know, health care in France is ranked one of the best in the world. And workers in France pay dearly into the system from their paychecks, but then are automatically covered under this wonderful system. Once we settle in France for five years, we will have the opportunity to apply into the social system too. But until then, we’re on our own. (And who knows what changes may take place in the system rules in the next five years!!!)
Of course, Medicare is only available in the US, and the health benefit that IBM provides to retirees is also only useable in America. So that just sucks—we have to leave those benefits on the table. But we really want to do this, so we’ve always known that we needed to build these costs into our overall budget.
Then the process of actually finding an insurer began. Theo and I both have pre-existing conditions, but had no idea that finding health insurance would be so difficult. There are many companies advertising on all the expat and travel sites, but I decided to employ the help of a broker and found a fantastic company to work with in England, called MediBroker. Our first application was made to Cigna, and they summarily denied any coverage to me because of my Hodgkin’s Disease over 19 years ago, and they excluded Theo’s highest risk factors. So we sulked for a few days, sincerely wondered if this whole move is even worth it, then forged on…
Then our broker suggested we apply to an Aetna company, who was well known for accepting pre-existing conditions (for a price.) So we filled out all the agonizing paperwork again. And waited. They came back and asked for proof that my cancer has been in remission for the last 19 years, so I had to dig up records from an eternity ago, but succeeded in getting some post-chemo summaries, along with my current blood work to prove that I’m healthy as a horse. And they accepted me!!! (With a 50% front-load.) But the price was still acceptable at €650/month. So I’m now secured with a great plan. Whew!
Theo is going to explore a plan from a previous insurer in Germany, who offers Europe-wide coverage. It has no pre-existing exclusion clauses and promises to be quite a bit less expensive than other options. So we will explore that plan during our month in Germany… stay tuned!
We have heard that health services in France are much, much less expensive than in the US, so even house calls are not prohibitively expensive or unusual! We will just have to wait and see and experience it all for ourselves. Cindy is busy studying pronunciation of body parts and types of pain in French just in case!!!