Free prescriptions may be axed – but medication loophole could save 70 percent on costs

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The free prescriptions given to those aged over 60 could disappear in April, with many concerned that the £9.35 fee per item will put their retirement in ruin. While the free prescription scrapping is still being decided, consumers can use an easy loophole to save up to 70 percent on their medication.

Free prescriptions have been available for those over the age of 60 for over a decade and many pre-pension Brits rely on this benefit to make ends meet. 

The Government has now proposed that the free prescription age rise in line with state pension age. 

One variation of potential changes could see those aged between 60 and 66 losing their free prescriptions almost instantly if the proposal is accepted.

There are an array of ways to lower the costs of prescriptions, although none would bring the fee down to £0 like the current policy does. 

A simple way to slash the bill without compromising one’s health is using the active ingredients. 

An active ingredient is the main therapeutic action of a medication, with the majority of other ingredients helping to deliver or increase the potency of the active ingredient. 

Consumers worried about the potential costs of paying for their full prescription can therefore find over the counter medications with the same active ingredient but usually at a cheaper price. 

An NHS prescription has a flat rate of £9.35 per item, this is to ensure that everyone has access to expensive medications if needed without breaking the bank. 

However, over the counter substitutes are available and sometimes the exact medication can be cheaper when not bought on prescription. 

Moneysavingexpert.com shared that consumers could save a potential 70 percent on their medication bill by finding an over the counter alternative with the same active ingredient. 

They compared cold, flu and fever branded products across online and physical stores with the cheapest generic brand with the same active ingredients. 

Nurofen for children was found to be cheapest at Savers for £2.99,  whereas its generic equivalent Ibuprofen suspension was only 95p at the same store, offering 68 percent savings. 

Calpol was found to cost £2.45 at Wilko with its generic equivalent, Junior Parapaed costing only 95p at the same store.

A pack of 16 Nurofen tablets cost roughly £1.98 with the generic Ibuprofen equivalent costing 25p, both at Asda, offering 87 percent savings.

A Clarityn pack of 30 cost £6 at Sainsbury’s with the generic Loratadine 30 pack costing just £1 at Savers.

But people should always be careful with the type of medication they are looking for, and consuming.

Having a pre-payment certificate or medical exemption certificate can see patients paying £2 or less per prescription item per week. 

Additionally, the free prescriptions will not be cut for all of those currently receiving it.

Those under the age of 16 or between 16 and 18 who are in full-time education will still receive free prescriptions. 

Pregnant women or new mothers with a maternity exemption certificate can still avoid the payments and chronic medication will be provided to those with certain medical conditions free of charge.

People on the following benefits will also still receive their free prescription:  

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension credit – Guarantee element
  • Universal Credit

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