Are you eligible for free NHS prescriptions? Here’s how to check

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Although most NHS treatment is free, there are certain services that people have to pay for, such as dentist appointments, prescriptions, and sight tests to name a few. However, some people can get these services for free depending on their situation.

While inflation hit double digits of 10.1 percent in July, its sharpest increase in 40 years, now is a crucial time for households to be checking their eligibility for additional means of support.

The current NHS prescription charge is £9.35 per item, and although this fee has been frozen to help households with the rising living costs, it can mount up.

However certain groups are eligible to get these prescriptions for free, and there’s a really simple way to check.

Which groups are eligible for free NHS prescriptions?

There are 15 groups eligible for free NHS prescriptions, and these include:

  • Under 16s
  • Aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • Registered disabled and are unable to go out
  • Have a war pension exemption certificate
  • An NHS inpatient
  • In receipt of Income Support
  • In receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • In receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • In receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • In receipt of Universal Credit 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
  • The owner of a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • In receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).
  • People with certain illnesses including cancer and epilepsy
  • People aged 60 or over

Although, while some Universal Credit claimants can get free prescriptions, this depends on the person’s financial situation.

Claimants should qualify if they:

  • Earned £435 or less in the last assessment period
  • Took home £935 or less if this includes an element for a child

If people are still unsure, the NHS has a helpful tool that allows people to describe their situation, to which clarification can be given on whether they can receive free prescriptions.

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It takes around three minutes to fill out, and people can access the tool, here.

However, people need to be sure that they do qualify, otherwise, they risk facing a fine.

A statement from the NHS’s Business Service Authority (NHSBSA), which is responsible for checking claims, reads: “Each year, the NHS loses significant funds due to people claiming free prescriptions or dental treatment they weren’t entitled to.

“This directly reduces the money available for core patient care.”

Britons who “falsely” or “incorrectly” claim they are eligible for a free prescription when they’re not entitled to will be sent a penalty charge note asking them to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charges, as well as the penalty charge.

Typically, the charge is five times the original amount owed or up to £100.

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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