Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions
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In England, the current prescription cost is £9.35 per item, unless a person is exempt from charges. One of these exemptions is currently being over the age of 60, but this could change.
There is currently a consultation taking place which is examining whether the free prescription age should align with the state pension age – currently 66 and rising.
If implemented, it could mean residents of England have to wait longer to become eligible for free prescriptions.
However, many of those in the potentially affected age bracket have said they are concerned about their health deteriorating as a result of being unable to meet a prescription payment.
Indeed, costs for the NHS have been expressed as a worry for many older people.
Some are concerned that lack of medicine affordability could mean they would end up hospitalised.
One man, James, told Age UK: “I need my inhalers for COPD, and also my blood pressure tablets which I will be on for life.
“If the Government makes us pay, it will be impossible for me to pay the prescription fee as I just can’t afford it as things are.
“No doubt, I would end up in hospital or worse.
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“It costs more to keep me in hospital than it would for my medication. I’m sure this would affect a lot more people than me.”
In the past, experts have shared their worry that paid prescriptions for older people would mean tough choices could have to be made.
Thorrun Govind, RPS English Pharmacy Board Chair, previously stated: “Every day pharmacists are asked by patients who are unable to afford all the items in their prescription which ones they could ‘do without’.
“Patients should not have to make choices which involve rationing their medicines.”
However, this is a situation some fear they will have to face if the free prescription age is increased.
A woman named Julie explained: “I have to take various medications.
“If I had to pay for them, I wouldn’t be able to afford them all.
“I would have to choose which ones I thought were most important and go without the others.
“That would be very harmful to my health and I’d become more ill.”
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Those who are taking regular medication and who are not exempt have been encouraged to look into the prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).
This means anyone can obtain all the prescriptions they need for just over £2 per week.
Annual PPCs can also be paid for in instalments to help Britons spread the cost.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, over 60, or have certain medical conditions.
“The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link between this and the state pension age. We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.
“Extensive arrangements are already in place to help people afford NHS prescriptions.”
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