Britons could save £340 on NHS prescription charges via a PPC

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Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Currently prescriptions are free for over-60s in England, but the Government is proposing to increase the age to 66-years-old, despite the fact that everyone in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get them for free no matter what their age. NHS prescription charges could rise to as much as £13 by 2035 according to a recent report by Chemist4U, but the good news is most people could get free prescriptions or pay less.

Government proposals to change the age at which people in England receive free NHS prescriptions are making campaigners worried that people will have to choose between taking their medication and putting food on the table.

One woman, Joan, told Age UK: “My husband and I are on a low fixed income, which is just above the qualifying amount for any benefits.

“Fortunately, I am fit and well at the moment, but if I needed to pay for prescriptions this would put us at a disadvantage, as it would mean using money from our food bill to pay for it.

“These changes only push more and more older people into poverty and subsequent ill health.”

If the proposals get the green light, it will mean some 2.4 million more people will have to pay for their medication at a time when the cost of living crisis is already making life difficult.

However, millions of people are exempt from paying NHS prescription charges because they are on DWP benefits like Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance and earn less than a certain amount.

Prescription charges are usually waived for people on certain benefits if they earn less than the threshold and have responsibility for one or more children.

NHS prescription charges are also free for those who have a serious health condition like epilepsy or cancer.

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Those with a qualifying illness should be sent a medical exemption certificate through the post by the NHS.

But it’s not just people with a serious illness or those who depend on benefits who could save money when it comes to NHS prescription charges.

Anyone can buy a pre-payment certificate which costs £108.10 and should save them money in the long run.

People who rely on two prescriptions per month could save more than £100 a year, while those who depend on four prescriptions every month would save £340 a year.

A pre-payment certificate could save someone:

  • Two prescriptions per month – save £116.30 with a 12-month PPC

  • Three prescriptions per month – save £228.50 with a 12-month PPC

  • Four prescriptions per month – save £340.70 with a 12-month PPC.

A spokesperson for the DHSC said it still hasn’t come to a decision on whether over 60s will soon be charged for their prescriptions, but most people receive free prescriptions already.

“We recognise the pressures people are facing with the rising cost of living and we are taking action to support households, including freezing prescription charges for the first time in 12 years.

“Thanks to our extensive arrangements to help people afford NHS prescription charges, 89 percent of prescriptions in England are already provided free of charge.”

To check whether someone is eligible for free prescriptions or to buy a PPC, people should go to the NHS website.

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