The 15 groups of people that qualify for FREE prescriptions

YOU might qualify for free prescriptions – but still be paying.

Fifteen groups of people don’t have to pay a penny for their medicines, thanks to the NHS, but this is soon set to change.

Some people don't need to pay the £9.35 prescription charge

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Some people don’t need to pay the £9.35 prescription chargeCredit: Alamy

The Government wants to move the age Brits can get free prescriptions up from 60 to 66 years old.

It means millions more people will have to fork out for their drugs when they thought they’d get them free from their 60th birthday. 

Each prescription costs £9.35.

For those aged under 16, 17, 18, and 18, or for those in full-time education or over 60, prescriptions are free.

Pregnant and new mothers can receive free prescriptions.

Some illnesses may also allow you to be exempt from prescription fees.

The full list of people who don’t have to pay include those who:

  1. Are 60 or over

2. Are under 16

3. Are 16 to 18 and in full-time education

4. Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)

5. Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

6. Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

7. Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

8. Are an NHS inpatient

If you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

9. Income Support

10. Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

11. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

12. Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

13. Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you’re entitled to or named on:

14. A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less

15. A valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

You can also use this questionnaire – “Check before you tick” – to see if you are eligible in case you are not sure.

The pharmacist will need to verify eligibility for all of the exemptions.

If you don’t meet the criteria for free prescriptions and are in financial difficulty, other support options are available such as prepayment certificate or the NHS low income program.

You should ask your pharmacist if you are eligible for these schemes.

What medical conditions are covered?

  • cancer
  • a permanent fistula
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person

These people can have credit-card sized cards that show they are medically exempt, which lasts for five years and will need renewal.

If you believe you fall under this category, but don’t have a card, ask your doctor for an FP92A form.

What’s changing?

Officials are currently consulting on whether the state pension age and the free prescription age should change.

The consultation, which closed on September 2, said that people aged 60 to 65 can remain in work and be “economically active and more able to meet the cost of their prescriptions”.

Charities have condemned the plans as it places people in a position where they must choose between the cost of living and vital medicine.

The Prescription Charges Coalition called the proposals “thoughtless”.

Laura Cockram, head of policy and campaigns at Parkinson’s UK and chairwoman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said: “It will cause thousands of people living with long-term health conditions unnecessary difficulties with accessing their medication, increasing their risk of ill-health and potentially sending them to hospitals.

“Far from saving the NHS money, this proposal is likely to cost more and do lasting damage to the nation’s health.”

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