Who qualifies for free NHS prescriptions? Potential age changes explained

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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Certain groups of people can currently receive free NHS prescriptions depending on their age, circumstances and medical conditions. However, there is a proposal that could see the upper age limit for free prescriptions aligned to the state pension age, which is currently 66.

Some charities and organisations have voiced concerns about this proposal due to the transitional options and long-term impact. 

The state pension age is constantly under review in order for it to properly align with life expectancy in the UK. 

If the proposal goes through, the age requirement for free prescriptions will be tied into the state pension age, meaning it will likely rise in the future.

Younger generations may therefore have to wait a potential decade until they can receive their entitlement.

The proposal currently has two transition options which could be implemented if it succeeds. 

The first will protect those currently between 60 and state pension age, allowing them to keep their free prescriptions. 

This would mean people aged 59 would wait six years longer than their slightly older counterparts when the proposal is implemented. 

Until the proposal is actually implemented, people over the age of 60 will still be able to receive their free prescriptions. 

It will also not impact those that receive free prescriptions under other qualifying conditions. 

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People aged under 16 or between 16 and 18 and are in full-time education when they are prescribed medication can get it for free.

Additionally, people who are an inpatient at an NHS hospital do not have to pay for the prescriptions they receive while in hospital. 

Benefit recipients, or their partners, can receive free prescriptions if they get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit. 

People who are under the age of 20 and dependant on someone receiving these benefits can also get free prescriptions. 

Having certain medical conditions also qualify Britons for free NHS prescriptions. 

They will have to have a medical exemption certificate and will likely need to present it when collecting their prescriptions. 

To apply for this certificate, Britons will need to ask their doctor for a FP92A form. 

The qualifying conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • A permanent fistula
  • A form of hypoadrenalism
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema
  • Epilepsy
  • A continuing physically disability that requires the assistance of another person. 

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