Over 60s may have to wait longer for free prescriptions

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Free NHS prescription age could rise to 66, meaning millions of people could be left waiting longer for the freebie benefit. If the suggestion goes ahead, free NHS prescription age could rise to 66 in England, meaning millions of people could be left waiting longer for the freebie benefit. Currently over 60s benefit from free prescriptions, but if this changes, people living in England will have to wait at least six years longer to get the benefit.

However, as the cost of living crisis continues, Britons are urged to find out if they qualify for any benefits which could help cut costs.

People in England who are not exempt from prescription charges will have to pay the £9.35 per item fee – but there are already 15 groups who do not have to meet the charge.

Some groups are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions and others can apply for certificates that entitle them to this.

Someone’s age is an important factor in determining whether people are entitled to this freebie benefit.

Here is a full list of the demographics who are eligible for free prescriptions based on their age bracket:

  • Over 60s in England
  • Young people under 16
  • Young people between the ages of 16 and 18 if they are in higher education
  • Residents in Scotland and Wales no matter what age they are.

Some prescribed items are always free, including contraceptives and medication given to hospital inpatients.

People on state benefits like Universal Credit could be exempt from paying for their prescriptions depending on their circumstances.

Benefits such as income support, income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance and Pension Credit could also mean someone is entitled to free prescriptions.

Additionally, people can get free NHS prescriptions if they have a valid HC2 certificate.

These certificates are issued to people who qualify for full help with health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

People with health conditions like epilepsy and cancer will be sent a medical exemption certificate through the post but it’s worth checking the full list of exemptions on the NHS website.

If a person has a valid NHS tax credits exemption certificate they may be eligible for a free prescription.

This can be gained by those who receive Working Tax Credit with a disability element, or Child Tax Credit, and have income for tax purposes of £15,276 or less.

Britons who are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months are only entitled to free NHS prescriptions if they have a valid maternity exemption certificate.

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.

For more information on who can qualify for free prescriptions, people can visit the NHS website.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, over 60, or have certain medical conditions.

“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. We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.”

Britons who don’t qualify for free prescriptions could still save money with a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) – available for three months or 12 months.

A one-year PPC enables people to purchase as many NHS prescriptions as they need throughout the year for £108.10 – no matter what their income is.

Britons who rely on two prescriptions a month could save over £100 over a 12 month period.

To find out more about PPCs and whether they are worth purchasing, people should go to the NHS website.

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