Whenever I tell people that we are quitting our jobs, moving to Paris and pursuing our own agenda for 1 year they all say the same thing, “Man I wish I could do that”. Actually the first thing they say is “What will you do with your time?” If you have to ask what you will do with you time in a city like Paris you lack imagination. For as many people who have dreamt of doing this it’s amazing how few feel they can or, more importantly, how few actually try. I thought when I began researching the nuts and bolts that there would be a plethora of information to tell me exactly what to do. There wasn’t. I’m starting a new topic section called How to Move to Paris, although it could more aptly be called How Not to Move to Paris because I have screwed up every little item I’m supposed to do and will probably not get a visa before we move.
This topic will bore my small group of regular readers but I figure the people who read this blog are all about pursuing the dream they wont mind a little advice to someone else that wants to runaway and join the circus.
Everyone will tell you that France has excellent health coverage. Their healthcare itself, I’ve been told, is one of the best in the world and their healthcare coverage runs circles around the United States, which isn’t hard to do. They have this peculiar notion that healthcare ought to be affordable to everyone. This is ‘crazy talk’ I know but some European countries have strange ideas like this. When you are moving to France- this will be the first thing that excites you. Here’s the catch- you aren’t entitled to it. This, of course makes sense, why should you get great healthcare coverage when you don’t actually pay 40- 50% taxes to finance it. You can’t get a visa to live in Paris unless you buy healthcare insurance for the duration of your stay. It should be noted that even if you didn’t have insurance, you could probably afford the cost of an emergency, it is that reasonable.
K- is attending the American University of Paris, included in her tuition is healthcare insurance. The American University uses AXA Insurance for their coverage. I did a little shopping around but it was by no means an exhaustive search (which is, of course, why this should be titled how not to move to Paris). It was my thinking that the AUP probably did a fair job in researching the insurance and AXA Insurance is the preferred insurance of AARA- Tired of initials yet? (Association of Americans Residing Abroad) I figure that this is probably a reputable insurance company. There are several catches. You need to become a member of the AARA to get the AXA rate of insurance- this, of course sounds like a scam but I think that that is something I’m going to have to get used to. I became a member for 1-½ years at a cost of $111 USD. When you sign up for a membership with the Association of Americans Residing Abroad they will send your name to AXA Insurance. At the same time you can go to the AXA website, www.europeanbenefits.com, print out the forms and fill them out -this includes a medical questionnaire which you are probably used to. You need to mail the original to AXA. Keep in mind that this all takes time and that you will have to email AXA repeatedly to make sure they received the information and that they’ve done something with it. You may think that the amount of money your spending for something you will probably never use would cause the company to be chomping at the bit to sell you this, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Here’s the kicker. The questionnaire you fill out for the insurance company is valid for only 2 months. The visa you are applying for, which requires insurance in place before you can get the Visa should be sent in 4 months before you move- essentially you will need to have your insurance begin well before you are actually in France. You also need to become a member of the AARO before you are actually there, which is why I have a 1 ½ year membership.
I got the most basic coverage one can get. It is for only me and this costs 312 Euros for a 3-month period. You cannot pay the entire year in one shot; you need to pay each 3 months. I’d prefer to pay the year and be done with it but they explained that the rate could go up after the New Year.
Complete costs for the year are:
Membership AALA $111 USD
Insurance for the year $1,694 USD (1 EUR- 1.357 USD)
Total $1,805 USD
After all this mess is sorted out the AXA will email you your insurance card and the paperwork that you need to submit to the French consulate for your Visa.
Man…that was one boring ass post.