‘My health will deteriorate!’ Carers could lose free prescriptions due to pension change

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Age UK is warning that older unpaid carers are most at risk of missing out on the “freebie” benefit if a Government proposal is implemented. The Government is exploring aligning free prescription eligibility with the state pension age, which is currently 66 years old. As it stands, residents in England are able to claim this support once they turn 60 which means they will have to wait longer to get it if the changes are introduced.

According to Age UK, nearly one in four people aged between 60 to 65 are carers for loved ones.

That is the equivalent of 860,000 people and fewer than one in 10 of this group claim any benefit support from the DWP via payments such as help at Carer’s Allowance.

Some 56 percent of carers in this age demographic who are not in paid employment are believed to have given up work to care for someone.

While some people may be entitled to exemptions, many over 60s who are unpaid carers will need to find additional cash to pay for their NHS prescriptions.

Currently, free prescriptions are available to all residents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In comparison, those who live in England need to pay £9.35 per prescription item. This means that if someone has multiple prescriptions, they will have to pay more money.

To save money, some residents in England claim a Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) which offers NHS prescriptions at a set price for a period of time.

In light of the potential state pension changes, Age UK is urging the UK Government to scrap its plans to align free prescriptions with the state pension age.

Speaking to Age UK, one woman said: “As an unpaid carer whose only source of income is Carer’s Allowance, I need free prescriptions.

“I won’t be able to afford my prescriptions if I have to pay for them, meaning my own health will deteriorate and I won’t be able to continue with my caring role.”

Another woman shared: “I had to give up work at 58 to care for my husband who has severe Alzheimer’s.

“I don’t yet qualify for my state pension and only get Carer’s Allowance, so money is always tight.

“We already spend a small fortune on care costs, costs associated with incontinence, extra on heating, water for washing etc. Paying for prescriptions would cause issues.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, explained: “There is ample evidence showing that older carers often struggle with their own health problems, so making them start paying for their medication simply risks them becoming even less fit and well.

“When a carer’s health breaks down and they are unable to continue to care then this is not only bad news for them and their loved one, it piles extra pressure on our beleaguered health and care system too.

“So why is the Department of Health and Social Care considering adopting a policy that makes carer breakdown more likely, and at a time when we are not yet out of the woods of the pandemic?

“The adverse impact on older carers of this policy proposal adds to our sense that it has not been properly thought through. One senior doctor told me it was a ‘ridiculous idea’, because it is so likely to be self-defeating.

“The money the NHS saves from making more people buy their medication is almost certain to be outweighed by the costs of treating health conditions that worsen because some 60-65 year olds adhere less rigorously to their prescribed treatment regimes.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, over 60 years old, or have certain medical conditions.

“The upper age exemption 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.”

Source: Read Full Article