Free prescriptions: The list of groups that don’t have to pay £9.35

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Millions of people across the UK are trying to save where they can as they approach the winter months and a cost which can add up is the prescription charge. Currently, in England prescriptions cost £9.35 per item, however, people who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not have to pay as prescriptions are free of charge. There are 15 groups of people in England who are exempt from paying the charge and can get their medication for free.

People over the age of 60 years and under the age of 16 years are eligible for free NHS prescriptions.

Those aged 16, 17 and 18 and in full-time education can also claim the freebie. 

Britons who are pregnant and hold a maternity exemption ticket (MatEx) and someone who holds a  medical exemption certificate (MedEx) are also eligible.

Medical exemption certificates are only given to those with a specific health condition that meets the NHS’s qualifying criteria for additional support.

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The NHS’s Business Service Authority (NHSBSA states that to get this certificate, a person must have one of the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • A permanent fistula which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • A form of hypoadrenalism which requires specific substitution therapy
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy

The MedEX certificates can be used for at least five years and then need to be renewed and it is down to the patient to keep on top of this.

People who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability can also claim a free prescription and those who are NHS inpatients can too. 

Britons who claim certain benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are also part of the groups who can claim. 

Some can be eligible if they or their partner receive, or if they are under the age of 20 years and is dependent on someone receiving Income Support,  Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Pension Credit. 

Britons claiming Universal Credit can also be included however they will need to meet certain criteria. 

Another group includes people with a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate. 

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People qualify for the certificate if they get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element, and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less.

People on low income may be able to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Support Scheme and will be given a HC2 certificate. 

Having this certificate gives people free prescriptions, free NHS dental treatment, and free NHS eye tests.

It will also give help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses, help with travelling to receive NHS treatment and free NHS wigs and fabric support.

To apply for an HC2 certificate, people need to complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals.

People might also be able to get an HC1 form from their doctor, dentist or optician.

For all 15 exemptions, the pharmacist will ask for proof of eligibility when collecting the medicine. 

People need to double check if they are eligible for free NHS prescriptions as those who falsely claim or even just have mistakenly claimed face a £100 fine from the NHS Business Service Authority.

People will also be told to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charge as well as the penalty.

The NHS can then also charge an extra £50 if a person does not pay within 28 days of receiving the penalty charge notice.

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