Free prescriptions available for 15 groups

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In England, the prescription cost is currently £9.35 per item, which can be steep for those worried about the cost of living. However, there are a number of exemptions made available which means certain groups do not have to pay the charge.

The first group who can currently get free prescriptions are individuals aged 60 or over.

This may be at risk, however, as Britons wait for feedback on a consultation which proposed increasing the age of eligibility in line with the state pension age.

Another age related exemption comes for individuals under the age of 16, as children can get medicines for free.

The same goes for those aged 16 to 18 who are in full-time education, another exempt group.

Pregnant women or those who have had a baby in the previous 12 months can get a free prescription, as long as they have a valid maternity exemption certificate, known as MatEx.

People with a specific medical condition with a valid MedEx certificate are also eligible for the exemption.

If someone has a continuing physical disability that prevents them going out without help from another person and has a valid medical exemption certificate, they will not have to pay.

Britons who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate, as long as the prescription is for their accepted disability, will also get free prescriptions.

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In addition, NHS inpatients will not have to deal with prescription charges.

Britons who receive the following benefits are also exempt:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit (as long as criteria is met).

Individuals can get prescriptions for free if they are entitled to or named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

They will qualify if they get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less.

Those with a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs, know as HC2, will not pay.

Finally, people named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

Britons can check if they are eligible for help by using the NHS website.

Assistance could help people pay for:

  • NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment
  • Sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • Travel to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports.

The NHS has an eligibility checker, where people will need to provide answers to short questions about their circumstances.

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It usually takes “three minutes to check”, and after this, it could open Britons up to significant support.

However, the NHS has urged people to ‘check before you tick’ for eligibility for a free prescription.

The health service stated those who are unsure if they have to pay, or are waiting to find out, should pay.

If they later find out they are eligible, they can then claim a refund for what they have spent.

Not everyone will be eligible for a free prescription, and those who claim when they are not entitled could face consequences.

A £100 penalty charge could be levied, even if a person ticks by mistake, so it is their responsibility to check.

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