Free prescription age may rise to 66 but some items are ‘always free’

Jeremy Vine: Caller slams calls to scrap free over 60s prescriptions

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The Government is proposing to raise the free prescriptions age from 60 to 66, to bring the policy in line with the state pension. The move has been criticised by opposition leaders, with Labour MP Angela Rayner saying it would be a “huge burden” for older Britons on low incomes.

The cost of an average single prescription has risen by 30 percent since 2010 to £9.35, increasing the financial burden on those with long term health conditions.

A Government spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “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, or have certain medical conditions.

“The upper age exemption, 60 years old, has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link with the state pension age.

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

However, the NHS explains some items are “always free”. The health service’s website states: “Some prescribed items are always free, including contraceptives and medication given to hospital inpatients. Your prescriber can give you more information.”*

Free prescriptions are available for many Britons, including people under 16 and people aged 17 and 18 in full time education.

Those who are pregnant and hold a maternity exemption ticket can get the freebie, as well as people with a medical exemption certificate.

Medical exemption certificates are given to people who have a specific health condition as set out by the NHS.

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The certificates can be used for five years and then need to be renewed with the patient responsible for keeping on top of this.

To be eligible for the certificate, a person must have one of the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • A permanent fistula which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • A form of hypoadrenalism which requires specific substitution therapy
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy.

People who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate can also get free prescriptions, if the medication is for their accepted disability, as well as NHS inpatients.

Britons on certain benefits can also claim the freebie, including a person or a person whose partner receives:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Credit.

Britons claiming Universal Credit can also be included, however they will need to meet certain criteria.

Another eligible group is people with a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate, which is available for those on Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits with a disability element, who have an income of £15,276 or less.

Britons on low incomes may be able to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Support Scheme and obtaining a HC2 certificate.

Having this certificate provides access to free prescriptions, free NHS dental treatment, and free NHS eye tests.

The certificate also provides help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses, help with travelling to receive NHS treatment and free NHS wigs and fabric support.

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