NHS prescriptions: The benefits and illnesses that qualify for free prescriptions

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not need to pay for their NHS prescriptions no matter how old they are, what condition they have, or their circumstance. There are 15 groups of people who qualify for help towards NHS medical costs so people are urged to check if they are eligible. People aged 60 and over are exempt from paying the charge.

Those who are between 16 years and 18 years and are still in full-time education also don’t have to pay either.

People who hold a maternity exemption ticket (MatEx) or a medical exemption certificate (MedEx) are also eligible.

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

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

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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


Myasthenia gravis


Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy.

Britons who live with certain medical conditions should automatically be sent a medical exemption certificate first.

These 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 on state benefits like Universal Credit could also be exempt from paying for their prescriptions depending on their circumstances.

Claimants should qualify for free prescriptions if they earn £435 or less in the last assessment period or if they took home £935 or less if they have responsibility for a child.

On the Government website, it states that Britons are also entitled to free prescriptions if they or their partner receive, this includes those in civil partnerships, or who’re under the age of 20 and are dependent on someone receiving:

Income Support

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

If a person has a valid NHS tax credits exemption certificate they may be eligible for a free prescription.

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This can be gained by those who receive Working Tax Credit with a disability element, or Child Tax Credit, and have income for tax purposes of £15,276 or less.

People can find out if they are eligible for free NHS prescriptions or help with other NHS costs through the NHS eligibility checker.

This can be found on the NHS website.

Britons who claim financial support can also be entitled to free NHS dental treatment, and free NHS eye tests.

They can be entitled to support with the cost of glasses or contact lenses, help with travelling to receive NHS treatment and free NHS wigs and fabric support.

To get this help, claimants will need to apply for a 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.

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