Check if you qualify for free NHS prescriptions scheme

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In England, the cost of a prescription item is currently £9.35 per item, and if someone has a medical condition which requires several medications then the cost can really add up. At present, however, there are 15 groups which are exempt from paying the standard prescription fee and people should check if they can be included in these groups. People over the age of 60 years and under the age of 16 years are eligible for free NHS prescriptions and those aged 16, 17 and 18 years and in full-time education can also claim the freebie.

Britons who are pregnant and hold a maternity exemption ticket (MatEx) and someone who holds a medical exemption certificate (MedEx) are also eligible.

Medical exemption certificates are only given to those with a specific health condition that meets the NHS’s qualifying criteria for additional support.

According to the NHS’s Business Service Authority (NHSBSA), in order to obtain a medical exemption certificate, a person must have one of the following conditions.

These include:

  • Cancer
  • A permanent fistula which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • A form of hypoadrenalism which requires specific substitution therapy
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy

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The medical exemption certificate lasts for five years and needs to be renewed and it is down to the patient to keep on top of this.

People who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability can also claim a free prescription and those who are NHS inpatients can too.

People who claim certain Department for Work and Pension (DWP) benefits may also be eligible to claim the prescriptions for free.

Some can be eligible if they or their partner receive, or if they are under the age of 20 years and is dependent on someone receiving Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Pension Credit.

Britons claiming Universal Credit can also be included however they will need to meet certain criteria.

For all exemptions, the pharmacist will ask for proof of eligibility when collecting the medicine.

People need to double-check if they are eligible for free NHS prescriptions as those who falsely claim or even just have mistakenly claimed face receiving a £100 fine from the NHS Business Service Authority.

People will also be told to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charge as well as the penalty.

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The NHS can then also charge an extra £50 if a person does not pay within 28 days of receiving the penalty charge notice.

Those who don’t qualify for free prescriptions could reduce the amount they pay for prescriptions by investing in a Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC).

These certificates enable people to purchase as many NHS prescriptions as they need throughout the year.

There are two certificates someone could choose from, the first is a three-month PPC which is aimed at people who need more than three prescribed items in three months.

The second is a 12-month PPC, for people who require over 11 prescribed items during a year. The three-month PPC costs £30.25, while the 12-month version costs £108.10.

The NHS’s Business Service Authority says big savings can be made for those who require multiple prescriptions with patients needing at least two per month saving a total of £116 with a 12 month PPC and around £25 with a three-month one.

Britons can purchase a PPC on the NHS Business Services Authority’s website or at a registered pharmacy.

If bought online, a person will receive their PPC certificate immediately through their email whilst those who opt for a physical certificate will receive theirs through the post in around 10 working days.

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