If you or a family member has felt the impact of long-term sickness or a disability that requires medication you’ll understand that the implications reach further than just health concerns. Along with logistical planning to make sure the prescription is obtained regularly before the previous one runs out, the financial strain can be incredibly stressful. Your medication is essential to keeping you healthy - as your health is clearly a non-negotiable, we’re here to help you understand the costs and ways in which you can potentially save money.
How much does a prescription cost?
So how much is a prescription in the UK? These guidelines on Gov.uk tell us that standard prescription costs increased by 20 pence as of 1st April 2018. A prescription charge in England is now £8.80 (£9.00 in April 2019), meaning if you have a prescription containing multiple medications you have to pay that charge for each item. In other parts of the UK - Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland - prescription costs are free for anybody registered with a GP surgery.
As previously mentioned, these costs can be a real burden for people with long-term conditions requiring a variety of medications to stay healthy. Let’s investigate whether you could cut down on cost or if you’re eligible for free prescriptions.
Who is eligible for free prescriptions?
● Anyone 60 or over
● Anyone under 16, or 16-18 and in full-time education
● Anyone who is pregnant or has had a baby in the past 12 months (you will need a maternity exemption certificate)
● People receiving certain types of benefits, pensions and people with low income
● Anyone with a valid medical exemption certificate
The cost of a UK prescription can cause a headache for residents in England - could you be exempt from this cost? The above list is just a selection of people eligible for free prescriptions in England. You may be surprised to find out there is an extensive list of people who could be exempt from these fees.
View a full list of people who qualify for free prescriptions on the NHS website. Talk to your pharmacist or GP about whether your circumstances mean you could qualify, or you could even use this eligibility checker on the NHS Business Service Authority website.
Medical exemption certificates
One of the eligibility points above states you can qualify for free prescriptions if you have a valid medical exemption certificate. These certificates are issued to people who suffer from illnesses such as diabetes insipidus or mellitus, a continuing physical disability meaning that person can’t go out unaided and also for people undergoing treatment for cancer. You can find full information about these certificates, who can apply, how to apply and more here.
Low Income Scheme
The NHS Low Income Scheme can help you with the cost of your prescription depending on the income of your household. As long as you don’t have over £16,000 in savings, property (excluding where you live) and investments or £23,250 if you live in a care home permanently you can apply for the Low Income Scheme. There is a full guide on who need not apply, how to apply and details regarding how your application is assessed here.
Save on prescription costs
If you don’t qualify for free prescriptions and you aren’t eligible for help via the Low Income Scheme, don’t worry because there are still ways you could save and help yourself financially. The NHS gives the option for people to save through the prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).
As we’ve already said, prescriptions currently cost £8.80 per item and if you’re juggling more than one medication the costs can add up over time. PPC could be a great investment for you if you’re having to use a repeat prescription.
The two PPC options are:
● £29.10 for 3 months
● £104 for 12 months
If you only need four items on prescription across three months, you’ve already saved yourself £6.10. If you’re considering PPC, though, the chances are you’ll be needing more than four items in three months so you can save yourself a great deal of money - find out just how much and apply on the NHS Business Services Authority website. Another great draw of PPC is that you can pay in a variety of ways making it convenient to you. Pay via Direct Debit, card payment, cheque or postal order or even face-to-face over the till in your pharmacy.
Those who don’t qualify for a free prescription or the Low Income Scheme have a hassle free way to take the stress out of prescription costs through obtaining a prescription prepayment certificate. Hopefully by reading through our information on how much a prescription is in the UK, things will be much clearer and you can now save on stress and cost.
Don’t forget, it might be more cost effective to buy some items - such as hayfever tablets - from a pharmacist than purchase them on your prescription for £8.80 an item. Speak to your GP to be sure you’re using appropriate over-the-counter medicines.