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NHS prescription charges are now £9.00 per item. If you have long-term condition or any health issue which requires 2 or more prescriptions per month, the cost can add up. 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.
If you claim free NHS prescriptions when you’re not entitled, you could face a £100 penalty charge – even if this is by mistake. Citizens Advice has seen an increase in clients who have received fines for claiming free prescriptions when they are not entitled to claim.
Some, but not all, of those who receive Universal Credit are also entitled to free prescriptions. If you receive Universal Credit you will need to check if you do qualify here.
However, currently there is no tick option for Universal Credit claimants to select on the prescription forms. If the prescription you are signing does not have an option for Universal Credit, you should tick the box for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are unsure which box to tick ask the pharmacist.
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) if you are receiving certain types of treatment. There are specified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, diabetes – for a full list see the NHS website. NOTE: you can get prescription charges refunded if you have applied for a MEC which hasn’t yet arrived. MEC lasts for 5 years and it must be renewed.
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. You don’t need to apply if you’re already entitled to full help with health costs. It is possible to apply online.
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 about Free NHS prescriptions see
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.