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NHS prescription charges are now £8.80 per item. If you have long-term condition or any health issue which requires 2 or more prescriptions per month, the cost can be prohibitive. But there are many people who are eligible for free prescriptions and there are ways of reducing the overall cost if you need 2 or more items a month.
You automatically qualify for free NHS prescriptions if you are receiving income-based benefits – Income Support; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (and this means your partner & any dependent young people are also entitled to free NHS prescriptions). Proof of entitlement is your award notice. You also qualify if you or your partner gets Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.
Some, but not all, of those who receive Universal Credit are also entitled to free prescriptions. You will need to check if you do qualify. Please follow this link to check.
Under 16, aged 16- 18 and in full time education or 60 or older? You also are automatically entitled to get all your NHS prescriptions free.
If you are pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months you are entitled but ONLY if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate.
For some medical conditions you can get a Medical Exemption Certificate (MEC). Which conditions qualify? It includes Epilepsy which needs continuous anti-convulsive therapy; cancer and ongoing treatment; diabetes; a continuing disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person and some other conditions. Click here for a full list. NOTE: you can get prescription charges refunded if you have applied for a MEC which hasn’t yet arrived. MEC lasts for 5 years when it must be renewed.
If you’re not in any of the groups above and are struggling with the charges? If you are on a low income (including students) you can apply for an HC2 certificate. You can’t apply if you have savings over £16,000. It is possible to apply online. Click here for more information.
Another way to reduce the overall cost of regular prescriptions is to buy a prescription prepayment certificate. There are two PPC options to choose from: A 3-month PPC – costs £29.10 and will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months OR a 12-month PPC – costs £104.00 and will save you money if you need more than 12 prescribed items in a year. For full information and how to apply go to the NHS website.
WARNING: If you claim free NHS prescriptions when you’re not entitled, you could face a £100 penalty charge. Even if it’s by mistake. You can check if you are entitled to free prescription using an online checker here
Further information about Help with Health costs – see next week!