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While the NHS offers a number of services free of charge, certain services must be paid for. These include the likes of eyesight tests, prescriptions, and dentist appointments. However, some people can get these services free too, if they meet a certain criteria.
The current NHS prescription charge per item sits at £9.35, and for those who need several items frequently, this can mount up.
And while the cost of living generally remains high, now is a crucial time for households to check their eligibility for extra means of support – and NHS prescriptions could be an area to look into.
Who is eligible for free NHS prescriptions?
There are 15 groups eligible for free NHS prescriptions, and these include people who:
- Are under 16
- Are aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
- Are registered disabled and are unable to go out
- Have a war pension exemption certificate
- Are an NHS inpatient
- Are in receipt of Income Support
- Are in receipt of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Are in receipt of income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Are in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) 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
- Own a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- Are in receipt of a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).
- Have certain illnesses including cancer and epilepsy
- Are aged 60 or over
For further clarification on whether or not a person is eligible, the NHS has a helpful, three minute tool that allows people to check more accurately. It can be accessed here.
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It’s important for people to be sure their circumstances do permit them to claim to avoid facing a steep penalty.
Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England said: “Free prescriptions ensure that at-risk groups of people get the medication they need, but it’s crucial that this support also offers 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.”
People fraudulently claiming free prescriptions costs the NHS up to £256million a year, according to the public health service.
Alison O’Brien, head of loss recovery services, from NHSBSA said: “The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) checks claims randomly and retrospectively in order to appropriately recover funds and return them to NHS services.
“We encourage all patients to check their entitlement before claiming free prescriptions and our online tool provides support to understand if they are eligible.”
If a person qualifies for the free prescription, they must apply for a medical exemption certificate or a maternity exemption certificate if applicable.
It’s fairly simple to source one, Britons are just advised to speak to their GP to start the process.
For those who need a medical exemption certificate, people are advised to ask their doctor for an FP92A form to apply.
It’ll be valid for one month before the NHSBA receives the form, and it’ll last for five years before it needs to be renewed.
For maternity exemption forms, people are advised to contact their GP, midwife or health visitor. The form will be sent to the recipient by post or email and it’ll last until 12 months after the expected date of birth of their baby.
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