15 groups qualify for free NHS prescriptions – see if you could save

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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NHS prescription charges were frozen at £9.35 per prescription item this year, but a recent survey by the National Pharmacy Association discovered some cash-strapped Britons are going without their medication because of the cost of living crisis. It uncovered nearly nine in 10 chemists in England have patients who often go without prescription medicines because they can’t afford the cost. However, people with some medical conditions and those on low incomes are eligible for free prescriptions which could save them at least £112 a year.

The cost of living crisis is having a devastating effect on many Britons with some reporting they can’t afford to pay for their medication.

This news comes at the same time as the Government is considering increasing the age people get free prescriptions in England from 60-years-old to the current state pension age of 66-years-old for both men and women.

This is despite the fact that NHS prescriptions are free for everyone of all ages in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Nick Kaye, National Pharmacy Association vice chair, said no one should have to decide whether they can afford treatment.

Read more: Attendance Allowance is rising in April 2023 by 10.1 percent

He said: “People should not be denied access to prescription medicines on the basis of their ability to pay. We would like to see the prescription levy reformed or scrapped altogether, to remove this barrier to treatment.”

While some Britons are claiming they can’t afford their medication due to the cost of living, people who suffer from serious health conditions like cancer and epilepsy should automatically be sent a medical exemption certificate through the post.

Other conditions that qualify include epilepsy and a continuing physical disability that stops someone from going out without the help of another person.

However, it’s worth checking on the NHS website if someone thinks they should be exempt from paying but haven’t received one.

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 People should be sent a medical exemption card if they have:

  • cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment

  • a permanent fistula (for example, a laryngostomy, colostomy, ileostomy or some renal dialysis fistulas) requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance

  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential

  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism

  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone

  • hypoparathyroidism

  • 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 (temporary disabilities do not count, even if they last for several months).

Meanwhile, people may also qualify for free prescriptions if they are on a low income or certain benefits depending on their circumstances.

Britons should also qualify for free prescriptions if they are under 16, in full-time education or have a war pension exemption certificate.

Anyone who doesn’t qualify for free prescriptions should consider investing in a Pre Payment Certificate (PPC)) which enables people to purchase as many NHS prescriptions as they need throughout the year for £108.10.

Someone who relies on two prescriptions a month could save more than £100 a year – to find out more about PPC people should go to the NHS website.

The 15 groups of people who qualify for free NHS prescriptions:

  1. Under 16s

  2. Aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education

  3. Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months 

  4. Registered disabled and are unable to go out 

  5. Have a war pension exemption certificate 

  6. An NHS inpatient

  7. In receipt of Income Support

  8. In receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  9. In receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  10. In receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

  11. In receipt of Universal Credit and your earnings during your last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if your UC includes an element for a child or you have limited capability for work

  12. The owner of a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate

  13. In receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).

  14. People with certain illnesses including cancer and diabetes

  15. People aged 60 or over.

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