Martin Lewis discusses prescription prepayment certificates
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More than 10 million Britons rely on prescription medication every year, and costs of £9.35 per item in England can soon add up. There are groups of people who are able to claim the free prescriptions, however, Britons are being reminded they could face a £100 fine if they “tick the wrong box”. When collecting a prescription, the pharmacist will ask a person if they are eligible to have a free prescription, a person will then tick a box on the prescription which equates to their personal circumstance.
Britons who claim when they are not eligible will be told to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charges, and then the penalty charge.
NHS England state that the fine would still stand even if it claimed “by mistake”.
NHS England stated that it is the “responsibility” of the individual to make sure the correct box is ticked.
This is whether it is ticked by themselves, someone on their behalf, or the pharmacy or dental practice staff.
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The NHS can then also charge an extra £50 if a person does not pay within 28 days of receiving the penalty charge notice.
People are able to pay their Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in full or set up a Direct Debit (DD) on the NHS’s Business Service Authority’s (NHSBSA) website.
The NHS’s Business Service Authority is responsible for checking claims made for free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.
The group carries out monthly randomised checks on prescription forms and dental treatment claim forms to check for fraud and error.
It also recovers the costs of spent prescription charges by forcing those who are found guilty of incorrectly claiming free medication to pay them back.
In England, people can claim a free NHS prescription if they are over 60 years old, under 16 years old, or are between the ages of 16 to 18 years and in full-time education.
Those who are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous year and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) also qualify, as do those who have a medical condition or a continuing physical disability with a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx).
People who hold a valid war pension or those who are an NHS inpatient can all also claim.
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People who receive certain Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits could also qualify for free prescriptions and further financial assistance in regard to looking after their health.
People can check whether they are available for a free prescription with the NHS free prescription checker.
Those who live in Scotland and Wales get free prescriptions no matter what age they are.
According to the NHS, around £256million is lost per year due to patients falsely claiming them for free.
Commenting on the NHS prescription charge, chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England Keith Ridge said: “Free prescriptions ensure that at-risk groups of people get the medication they need, but it’s crucial that this support also offers the best value for taxpayers.
“Pharmacy teams are at the front-line in helping people understand the criteria for free prescriptions, and because mistaken claims place an extra cost burden on the NHS, it’s important that patients, carers and pharmacists know how and when they can make a claim.”
This year, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that it was to freeze the prescription charge for the next 12 months instead of raising it alongside inflation.
The decision was made to help Britons access their medicine as the cost of living squeezes peoples finances.
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