YOU might qualify for free prescriptions – but still be paying.
Fifteen groups of people don’t have to pay a penny for their medicines, thanks to the NHS, but this is soon set to change.
The Government wants to move the age Brits can get free prescriptions up from 60 to 66 years old.
It means millions more people will have to fork out for their drugs when they thought they’d get them free from their 60th birthday.
Each prescription costs £9.35.
Currently, free prescriptions are available for those under 16 years old or 16, 17 and 18 and in full time education, or over 60.
Pregnant women and new mothers are eligible to claim free prescriptions.
Certain illnesses can also exempt you from prescription charges as well as being on some benefits.
The full list of people who don’t have to pay include those who:
- Are 60 or over
2. Are under 16
3. Are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
4. Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
5. Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
6. Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
7. Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
8. Are an NHS inpatient
If you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:
9. Income Support
10. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
11. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
12. Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
13. Universal Credit and meet the criteria
If you're entitled to or named on:
14. A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
15. A valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
You can also use this questionnaire – “Check before you tick” – to see if you are eligible in case you are not sure.
For all the above exemptions, the pharmacist will ask for proof of eligibility.
For those who don't qualify for free prescriptions but are struggling financially, there are other means of support such as prepayment certificates and the NHS low income scheme.
Your pharmacist should be able to advise you on whether you qualify for the schemes.
What medical conditions are covered?
- a permanent fistula
- a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison's disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
- diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
- diabetes, except where treatment is by diet alone
- myasthenia gravis
- myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
- epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
- a continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person
These people can have credit-card sized cards that show they are medically exempt, which lasts for five years and will need renewal.
If you believe you fall under this category, but don’t have a card, ask your doctor for an FP92A form.
Officials are consulting on whether the free prescription age should be lowered from 66 to 60, to be aligned with the state pension age.
The consultation, which closed on September 2, said that people aged 60 to 65 can remain in work and be “economically active and more able to meet the cost of their prescriptions”.
Charities have slammed the plans because it puts people at risk of choosing between paying for vital medicine and the cost of living.
The Prescription Charges Coalition called the proposals “thoughtless”.
Laura Cockram, head of policy and campaigns at Parkinson’s UK and chairwoman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said: “It will cause thousands of people living with long-term health conditions unnecessary difficulties with accessing their medication, increasing their risk of ill-health and potentially sending them to hospitals.
“Far from saving the NHS money, this proposal is likely to cost more and do lasting damage to the nation’s health.”
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