Free prescriptions UK: Proposals to make over 60s pay ‘simply not fair’

Jeremy Vine: Caller slams calls to scrap free over 60s prescriptions

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Writing in her column for Tameside Reporter earlier this week, Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, Angela Rayner, said NHS prescription costs are already a “huge burden” for people on low incomes. She added lots of people are worried about the Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) proposals to raise the age people qualify for free prescriptions in line with the state pension age of 66.

The cost of a single prescription has risen by 30 percent since 2010 to £9.35 placing an increasing financial burden on people with a health condition.

Currently prescriptions are free for over-60s in England, but the Government is proposing to increase the age to 66 years old.

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

Ms Rayner has criticised the plans saying it will end up costing the NHS more in the long run.

She said: “This is a huge burden on so many people, especially those living with long-term conditions, who are forced to spend hundreds of pounds each year on the medication that they cannot live without.

“An impact assessment carried out by the government found, unsurprisingly, people on lower incomes will be most severely affected by this policy, and I am worried that people skipping medication could lead to future health problems resulting in major problems for our already overstretched NHS.

“At a time when the cost of living continues to rise, the Government must consider what more it can do to support people with essential costs, such as prescription medication.

“The consultation closed in September 2021 and the Government is currently analysing feedback before they consider their next steps.

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A spokesperson for the DHSC said it still hasn’t come to a decision 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.”

People receive free prescriptions if they have a long term health condition like cancer or epilepsy.

Millions more people are exempt from paying NHS prescription charges because they are on DWP benefits.

Depending on how much they earn, they could save £9.35 per item or more than £100 a year on the cost of their prescriptions.

Prescription charges are waived for people on certain benefits like Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance if they earn less than a certain amount.

It also depends on whether the claimant has responsibility for one or more children.

6 Meanwhile, those who don’t qualify for free prescriptions could save money by buying a Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) no matter what their income.

  • 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.

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