NHS prescriptions: Which benefits and illnesses qualify for free prescriptions? Check now

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Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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People on certain benefits and some illnesses are entitled to help towards their medical costs which includes free prescriptions, dental treatment and glasses. It could save people hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds per year.

NHS prescription charges were frozen this year, but at £9.35 per item in England, the cost soon adds up.

As rising prices continue to financially impact Britons, there’s never been a more important time for people to check they aren’t paying unnecessarily.

Britons who live with certain medical conditions should automatically be sent a medical exemption certificate through the post.

However, it’s worth checking the NHS website’s online tool if people think they qualify but have fallen through the cracks.

Which 15 groups of people qualify for free NHS prescriptions?

  • Under 16s
  • Aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • Registered disabled and are unable to go out
  • Have a war pension exemption certificate
  • An NHS inpatient
  • In receipt of Income Support
  • In receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • In receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • In receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • In receipt of Universal Credit and their earnings during their last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if their UC includes an element for a child or they have limited capability for work
  • The owner of a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • In receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).
  • People with certain illnesses including cancer and epilepsy
  • People aged 60 or over.

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Although people aged 60 or over are currently entitled to free prescriptions this could all change if proposals to increase the age to 66 years old get the green light.

This is despite the fact that they are free for everyone in In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the DHSC said: “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.”

Not everyone on Universal Credit will qualify for free prescriptions as it will depend on their individual circumstances.

Claimants should qualify if they:

  • Earned £435 or less in the last assessment period
  • Took home £935 or less if this includes an element for a child.

Meanwhile, a Pre Payment Certificate (PPC)) could help those who aren’t entitled to free prescriptions save money.

A PPC enables people to purchase as many NHS prescriptions as they need throughout the year for £108.10.

Britons who rely on two prescriptions a month could save over £100.

To find out more about a PPC people should go to the NHS website. 

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