Free prescriptions available to 15 different groups of Britons – are you eligible?

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Currently, prescriptions cost £9.35 per item, and for those with multiple items, and items on a regular basis, costs can quickly rack up. Prescriptions only come with costs in England, as in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, prescriptions are free for all, regardless of circumstances.

Recently, there have been fears free prescriptions for over 60s could be at risk as the Government debates a potential rule change.

It may mean the free prescription age aligns with state pension age, which is currently 66 and rising.

Consequently, many Britons in the affected age group will be worried if they could miss out in the future.

However, over 60s are not the only category of people entitled to a free prescription in England, and there are other groups an individual could fall into.

Other than the over 60s, there are two other groups where free prescriptions are given based on age – under 16s and those between 16 and 18 who are in full-time education.

Those registered disabled and unable to go out, or in receipt of help from someone else could get a free prescription, but they need to have a valid medical exemption certificate.

Also avoiding the charge are disabled individuals who have a war pension exemption certificate.

Pregnant women and women who had a baby in the last 12 months will not have to pay, as long as they have a maternity exemption certificate.

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Other exemptions on charges for prescriptions are available through exemption certificates.

If people have a specified medical condition and a valid medical exemption certificate, they could be eligible for the process known as MedEx.

Similarly, people who have a valid NHS certificate for full assistance with health costs will not have to pay – known as HC2.

Perhaps one of the largest groups of people who could secure a free prescription in England are individuals in receipt of particular benefits.

These are: 

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • The Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit – as long as earnings during the last assessment were £435 or less, or £935 or less if the benefit includes an element for a child, or a person has limited work capability.

If a person has a valid NHS tax credits exemption certificate they may be eligible for a free prescription.

This can be gained by those who receive Working Tax Credit with a disability element, or Child Tax Credit, and have income for tax purposes of £15,276 or less.

There is a “simple” way for Britons to check whether they are eligible for a free prescription.

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Individuals can use the eligibility checker on the NHS website, and it is claimed this should take about three minutes to determine. 

A Government spokesperson recently told “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge.

“People don’t pay if they are on a low income, or have certain medical conditions.

“The upper age exemption, 60-years-old, has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link with the state pension age. 

“We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.”

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