NHS free prescription age could rise, but 15 groups are already getting free drugs | Personal finance | Finance


In the past, Britons have been hit by rising prescription costs in April, but this year the £9.35 fee per item has been frozen. If a person is not exempt, they will have to pay £9.35 for each medicine purchased.

The English currently receive free prescriptions at the age of 60, while medicines are free for all in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

However, under current proposals, the upper age exemption for prescription costs could be brought into line with the statutory retirement age, which is currently 66 but is increasing.

This would mean that the age of free prescription increases by at least six years from its current level of 60 to .

Among people aged 60 to 65, 3.54 million rely on NHS prescriptions.

READ MORE: Disability living allowance explained as thousands set to switch to new benefits

Who can get free prescriptions?

Britons can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is issued, they:

  • You are 60 or older
  • are under 16
  • Are between the ages of 16 and 18 and in full-time education
  • Are an NHS hospital patient
  • Hold a valid War Pension Exemption Certificate and prescription is for your accepted disability

As long as a person has a valid Maternal Exemption Certificate, they can get free prescriptions while pregnant or if they have had a baby in the past 12 months.

They are also eligible – with a valid Medical Exemption Certificate (MedEx) – if they have a physical disability that prevents them from leaving home independently, or if they have a specified medical condition.

A MedEx gives people free prescriptions good for five years or until their 60th birthday, whichever comes first.

Medical conditions that warrant a MedEx are:

  • A permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy, or ileostomy) that requires a continuous surgical dressing or device
  • A form of hypoadrenalism (eg Addison’s disease) for which specific replacement therapy is essential
  • Diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except when treated with diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxedema (i.e. hypothyroidism that requires thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Epilepsy requiring ongoing anticonvulsant therapy
  • A continuous physical disability that means a person cannot get out without the help of another person
  • Cancer (including treatment of the effects of the disease)

Low-income or low-income Brits can also get free prescriptions.

People are entitled to free prescriptions if they or their partner (including civil partner) are receiving, or are under 20 and dependent on someone who is receiving:

  • Income support
  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Income Support Benefit
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If anyone is entitled or named to:
A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if someone does not have a certificate they can show their award notice. People are eligible if they get child tax credits, working tax credits with a disability element (or both) and have an income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less

A valid NHS certificate for full healthcare cost assistance (HC2)

If people are on a low income, they may be eligible to receive financial assistance through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

The scheme covers:

  • Prescription fees
  • dental costs
  • Eye care costs
  • Travel expenses for health care
  • Wigs and Cloth Stands

People can apply for the scheme as long as their savings, investments or assets (outside their place of residence) do not exceed the capital ceiling.

More details on the NHS website.

The NHS has directed Britons to an easy way to find out if they qualify for free prescriptions or help with healthcare costs.

Their eligibility checker, available online, will provide people with the clarity they need on this.

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