Free prescriptions explained: Who is eligible and how to claim a discount

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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However, some people are unable to claim free medication through the NHS and have to rely on available discounts to reduce their expenses. Currently, residents in England who are in their 60s are able to claim free prescriptions. It should be noted that there is a consultation into hiking the eligibility threshold to the state pension, but those who are 60 are still able to claim this “freebie” benefit. Young people who are under 16 are able to get free medication on the NHS, as well as those aged between 16 to 18 who are in full-time education.

Those who are pregnant or have had a baby in the last year and have a valid maternity exemption certificate, which is known as a MatX, are also eligible to claim this support.

One of the most common means of claiming free prescriptions is by receiving a valid medical exemption certificate, referred to as a MedEX.

Medical exemption certificates are awarded to those who have a specific health condition that meets the NHS’s qualifying criteria for additional support.

Furthermore, a medical exemption for free prescriptions can be given to those who have an existing physical disability that stops them from going out without help from another person.

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Among the conditions that qualify someone for a medical exemption certificate include:


Patients or those with a condition can ask their doctor for a FP92A form which will allow them to apply for a medical exemption certificate.

As part of the application, the claimant’s GP will sign the form to confirm that all the details and diagnosis is correct.

This medical exemption certificate will be valid from one month before the date the NHS Business Services Authority receives the application form.

All MedEX can be used for at least five years and then need to be renewed. Claimants may receive a reminder from the NHS that their medical exemption certificate will need renewed but it’s ultimately the responsibility of the patient to make sure this is done.

Recently, the UK Government has been advocating for prescription holders to purchase a pre-payment certificate (PPC) to provide a much needed discount for those who are unable to claim free prescriptions.

The average prescription cost in England is £9.35 per item. Due to many older and vulnerable people having multiple medications to pick up monthly or weekly, costs often rise higher for households.

A three-month PPC costs £30.25 per individual and an annual certificate is priced at £108.10. While many choose to pay this fee all at once, it is possible to spread the cost over 10 months paying £10.81 per month.

Once someone is in receipt of this discount, all of their prescriptions are covered under it.

An individual who claims two prescriptions a month could receive a discount which would save them £100 a year.

This discount is accessible via the NHS prescriptions website and people have the option to pay by card or direct debit.

Alternatively, forms are available at pharmacies across the country or claimants can call 0300.

Someone who becomes eligible for free prescriptions after buying a certificate, can reclaim the proportional cost for that time.

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