Save money on your NHS prescription fees
Being ill can be expensive. I just picked up my prescription from the pharmacist and looked at the price on the side of the bag which read £77.40 which shocked me slightly. The doctors have just started me on some new tablets so the cost of my prescriptions from next month will go up to £94.60 whilst I am hugely grateful for the NHS there is no way that I would be able to afford that each month if I had to pay full price.
Each individual prescription costs £8.60 (£17.20 for elastic hosiery) which is a bargain really compared to the cost price of the medicines a tablet I used to take had a cost price of over £250 a month. Some medicines are in the thousands of pounds per month.
The prescription costs soon start to stack up when you are on multiple medications. However the good news is there are a few ways you can save money on your prescription fees!
Under 16’s and those over 60 automatically receive free prescriptions. Your date of birth is printed on the prescription form so no proof of entitlement is required. Below I list four other ways to receive help with your prescription fees.
1. Prescription Prepayment Certificates
Prescription Prepayment Certificates are available to everyone regardless of their financial situation.
3 month Prescription Prepayment Certificate
A 3 month Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) costs £29.10 and covers you for unlimited prescriptions during the 3 month period. It is worth purchasing if you will need 4 items or more during those three months. You will save £5.30 on your 4th prescription and any further ones will be free.
12 month Prescription Prepayment Certificate
A 12 month PPC costs £104 per year and covers unlimited prescriptions for this period. It is worth purchasing if you will need to receive 13 prescription items in the year. You will save £7.80 on your 13th prescription and any others will be free.
What can I save?
- 2 items per month – £102
- 3 items per month – £205
- 4 items per month – £308
- 5 items per month – £412
- 6 items per month – £515
- 8 items per month – £721
- 10 items per month – £928
- 12 items per month – £1134
How do I apply for a Prescription Prepayment Certificate?
The quickest and easiest way to apply and pay for a PPC is online via the NHS Business Services Authority website. Alternatively you can purchase via telephone, from a pharmacist such as Boots or via post using this Prescription Prepayment Certificate form.
You can choose when to start your PPC to make the best use of the savings. You will receive a card to show the pharmacist as proof of prepayment. If there is a delay in the delivery of your card make sure you ask for a NHS Receipt (FP57) when you pay for your medications this will allow you to claim back the fee you are charged so you don’t pay twice.
2. Medical Exemption Certificate
If you are diagnosed with one of ten very specific health conditions you will be entitled to receive a Medical Exemption Certificate. This means that you will receive all your medical prescriptions free of charge not just those related to the named condition.
Who is eligible for a Medical Exemption Certificate?
If you have been diagnosed with one of the following conditions and meet any specific criteria mentioned you will be eligible to apply for a Medical Exemption Certificate.
- a permanent fistula which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
- a form of hypoadrenalism e.g. Addison’s Disease
- diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
- diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
- myasthenia gravis
- epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
- a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person
- cancer and you are undergoing treatment for either cancer, the effects of cancer or the effects of cancer treatment.
How do I apply?
If you receive one of the above diagnoses your doctor will give you a form to apply. You need to post it back to the address supplied and within 10 days you will receive a card as proof of your entitlement to free prescriptions.
Your Medical Exemption Certificate will automatically be backdated one month from the date they receive your application, so you will be able to receive refunds on any prescriptions fees paid before your card arrives. Just make sure you ask for a NHS Receipt (FP57) which will give you all the details on claiming your refund.
3. Income Based Government Benefits
If you are in receipt of one the following income based benefits you are automatically entitled to free NHS Prescriptions.
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
How do I receive my free prescriptions?
On the back of your prescription form there are many check boxes; tick the one that matches the benefit that you receive. Then you need to fill in your name, National Insurance Number, the date and sign the form. You may or may not be asked for proof of your entitlement so it is important you take along a copy of your most recent benefit award letter to show the pharmacist.
If the pharmacist doesn’t check for proof of entitlement they will mark it on the form and your details will be checked at a later date to ensure its a genuine claim. There is a fine of up to £100 for fraudulent claims.
4. NHS Low Income Scheme
If you have a low income and are struggling to afford to pay for your NHS prescriptions but are not eligible to receive one of the three above benefits then you can apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme. This scheme takes into account both your incomings and outgoings, so even if your income is above the level to be eligible to apply for Income Support you might still qualify so its well worth applying to find out.
Who is eligible?
There is only one criteria which is that you have less than £16,000 in savings, investments or properties (not including the property you live in) that figure rises to £23,250 (£24,000 in Wales) if you permanently live in a care home.
How do I apply?
If your capital is within the threshold then you will need to fill in this HC1 form. Every claim is assessed on an individual basis. It is well worth applying to see if you are eligible. An example of who might be eligible is someone who is above the earnings threshold for benefits but has high outgoings for unavoidable things like a care package. Another example is a student at university who might be choosing between picking up their prescriptions or eating for the week.
How do I receive my free prescriptions?
If you are eligible you will receive a HC2 certificate in the post this will award you full help with all health costs. If you are not eligible for the free prescriptions part you may still be eligible for the HC3 certificate which awards limited help with help costs eg free dental treatment and sight tests.