Free prescription age could rise by 6 years but 15 groups can still get medication free

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Last year the Government consulted on whether to raise the age at which people receive free prescriptions from 60 to the state pension age of 66. Whether the change goes ahead or not, millions of people are already exempt from paying NHS prescription charges.

Currently, prescriptions cost £9.35 per item each in England. In total 15 groups of Britons are exempt from paying for their prescription charges.

People in England are currently given free prescriptions when they turn 60, while medicines are free to everyone in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

However under current proposals the upper age exemption for prescription charges could be aligned with the state pension age, which is currently 66 but rising.

This would mean the free prescription age rises by at least six years from its current level of 60 years old to 66. The consultation looked at two options of implementing the change.

Among those aged between 60 and 65, 3.54 million rely on NHS prescriptions.

Consequently, millions could miss out on free prescriptions overnight, depending on how and if the Government decides to implement changes.

Over 60s may find they fit into another exempt group, and so will not have to meet prescription charges.

Britons may be eligible for free prescriptions because they are suffering from certain medical conditions or on a low income.

Those on low incomes or benefits can also get free prescriptions.

People with a qualifying illness should be sent a medical exemption certificate through the post by the NHS. This includes illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy.

Additionally, people are entitled to free prescriptions if they or their partner (including civil partner) receive, or they are under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

Prescription charges are waived for people on certain benefits like Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance if they earn less than a certain amount.

Britons can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, they:

  • Are 60 or over
  • Are under 16
  • Are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • Are an NHS inpatient
  • Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

Lots more medical conditions qualify – there’s a full list of qualifying medical conditions on the NHS website.

If people are not eligible for free prescriptions, they still may be able to make savings.

Many people could save by buying a Prepayment Certificate (PPC) if they buy several medications a year.

Britons can buy a PPC for three months or a year no matter what their income is.

A certificate tends to save people money if they rely on two or more prescriptions per month.

For two prescriptions per month, people can save £116.30 with a 12-month PPC.

If someone buys three prescriptions per month, they can save £228.50 with a 12-month PPC.

If they buy our prescriptions per month, then they can save £340.70 with a 12-month PPC.

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