Free NHS prescriptions to end from April? What you need to know
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Government proposals to axe free prescriptions for over 60s, instead increasing the exemption to state pension age, will have a long-lasting negative impact on 52 percent of people aged to 60 to 64 who have more than one long-term illness or health condition.
The Government is currently consulting on proposals that eligibility for free prescriptions in England rises from 60 to state pension age, which is currently 66 years old, but is set to rise.
If the proposals get the go ahead via one of the options, it would mean people between the ages of 60 to 65 in England have to start paying for their medication.
The idea has been deemed “a tax on the sick” because it will severely disadvantage more than half (52) percent of those aged 60 to 64 with more than one long-term illness.
It wants the Government to do a U-turn on the controversial plans which the charity says will lead to people becoming more ill because they can’t afford to take their prescribed medication.
In Scotland and Wales residents can get their prescriptions for free no matter how old they are.
Campaigners say this is unjust and are highlighting how people in England can reduce the cost of their prescriptions or even, in some cases, get them for free.
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Who qualifies for free NHS prescriptions?
- People aged 60 or over
- Those under 16
- Anyone aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Pregnant mothers, or anyone who has had a baby in the previous 12 months and has a valid maternity exemption certificate
- Those who are registered disabled
- NHS inpatients
- People in receipt of Income Support
- Anyone in receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Those in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Applicants in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Some Universal Credit claimants.
- Some people claiming child tax credits or working tax credits
- Those in receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
- Anyone living in Scotland or Wales
While these groups can get their prescriptions for free, there are other ways to make savings if people aren’t eligible.
People can buy a Prepayment Certificate (PPC) which costs £108.10 for the year and could help people save a packet depending on how many prescriptions they usually get per month.
However, public awareness about the prescription certificate is low with just over a quarter (27 percent) of people needing more than 12 regular prescriptions per year between the ages of 55 and 59 knowing about it.
It could be worth investing in one as prescription costs could soon rise to £13 per item if current trends continue.
That’s according to a damning new report from NHS healthcare provider Chemist4U.
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James O’Loan, pharmacist and CEO at Chemist4U said data indicates that this could soon be a reality.
To check one’s eligibility for free prescriptions – people can use the NHS free prescription eligibility checker tool.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link between this and the state pension age.
“No final decisions have been made and we will publish the consultation response in due course.”
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