Three tips to cut your NHS prescription bill as prices rise by 3.21%
Despite last year’s cost freeze to help Britons with rising inflation, NHS prescription charges increased by 3.21 percent on April 1. The price rise sees patients paying an additional 30p for their prescriptions, increasing from £9.35 to £9.65, and also includes prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs), wigs, and fabric supports.
The three-month PPC has risen by £1 to £31.23, while a 12-month PPC costs an additional £3.50, bringing the price up to £111.60. The recently introduced Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) PPC now costs £19.30.
England is the only country in the UK that still charges patients for their prescriptions. Individuals across Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland get theirs for free after charges were scrapped just over a decade ago.
However, there are ways people can reduce the cost of their medication and during this high-cost period, it could pay to be savvy.
Free NHS prescriptions
Britons could save hundreds on medical prescriptions a year under the NHS free prescription scheme.
There are a total of 15 groups with certain living or medical conditions that qualify for free NHS prescriptions, and these include those who:
- Are under 16
- Are aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
- Are registered disabled and are unable to go out
- Have a war pension exemption certificate
- Are an NHS inpatient
- Are in receipt of Income Support
- Are in receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Are in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Are in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) and their earnings during their last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if their UC includes an element for a child or they have limited capability for work
- Own a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- Are in receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
- Have certain illnesses including cancer and epilepsy
- Are aged 60 or over.
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Certain pharmacies, including some Boots stores, offer a Minor Ailment Scheme, which allows them to provide people eligible for free NHS prescriptions with medicines for minor illnesses, such as colds, coughs, eczema, and head lice, for free.
Currently, the Minor Ailment Scheme is widely available across Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, but only in selected pharmacies across England.
The medicines covered by the scheme can also be different depending on where the person lives, so it’s suggested that people talk to their local pharmacy to find out more about what they offer.
Prescription prepayment certificates (PPC)
PPCs cover all prescriptions at a set price and generally save people money if they need more than three items in three months or 11 items in 12 months.
This is because while a prescription now typically costs £9.65 per item, a PPC costs £31.23 for three months, and £111.60 for 12 months.
NHS low-income scheme
The NHS low-income scheme is available to those who don’t have savings or capital of over £6,000 and must be at least one of the following:
- A pensioner
- A student
- Earning a wage
- Receiving state benefits
- Living in a care home.
The amount of help given depends on weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments the person has at the time of applying.
Any help the eligible person is entitled to will also be available for their partner too if they have one.
People can apply for the scheme through the NHSBSA website, here.
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