NHS Prescription charges to change on 1st April 2020 - Here's how to possibly save a few quid..
The cost of NHS prescriptions is set to rise in England next month.
Prescriptions will rise from £9 to £9.15 from April 1st 2020. The cost increase is being blamed on the NHS having to deliver £22 billion of efficiency savings, with the hope that this charge increase will help reduce the cash shortages caused by previous underfunding.
It's not a massive increase for many, however for those people who may have several prescriptions, or are struggling financially, every cost increase can make a big difference to their budgeting.
The Government has announced the price increase will also affect charges for wigs and fabric supports, such as spinal aids, which will also rise in line with inflation.
Surgical bras will jump to £30.05, abdominal or spinal supports will rise to £45.35, stock-size modacrylic (i.e, synthetic) wigs will increase to £74.15, partial human hair wigs will increase to £196.40 and full bespoke human hair wigs will rise to £287.20.
The charges will only apply to patients in England, as prescriptions are currently free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
So how could you make a saving on your prescription charges?
1. Firstly, if you need more than 12 prescribed medicines each year, it's worth looking into the NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). This allows you to buy either a 3 month or 12 month certificate, which will then entitle you to as many prescriptions as you need, at no further cost.
The certificates cost £29.65 for a 3 month certificate, or £105.90 for a 12 month certificate, making the 12 month certificate work out at £11.57 per month, which means that you are essentially paying £11.57 for 1 prescription, but should you need 2 a month, then your cost has dropped to £5.79 a month, £3.86 if you need 3 a month, and so on...
I personally use this service and have found that this works perfectly for me. I can grab whatever prescriptions I need in a pharmacy, by quoting my certificate number, plus I make use of the Pharmacy2U service, where your prescriptions are ordered through their website and the medications delivered to you, by Royal Mail, cutting out the having to go into a pharmacy, or having to put in a repeat prescription request with your doctor. The service is free, I just give them my certificate number and they deal with everything for me.
2. If you are under 16 or over 60, aged 16-18 and in full-time education, pregnant (and hold a Maternity Exemption certificate), or on income support, you can get free prescriptions.
All you need to do is tick the relevant box on the back of your prescription form when you pick your medicine up from the pharmacist.
You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner – including civil partner – receives the following:
Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit or Universal Credit
Be aware that fraudulently claiming to be exempt, you may well be fined the cost of the prescription, plus up to a £1,00 fine as well!
3. If you suffer from certain medical conditions, you may entitled to free NHS prescriptions in the UK. To claim this, you'll need a Medical Exemption Certificate (EC92A) - which must be applied for through the NHS - ask your GP for an application form.
Under the scheme patients will receive a certificate to present to their pharmacist. The scheme benefits some 150,000 patients already diagnosed with applicable illnesses. Many people save an average of £100 each year in prescription charges.
Certificates are valid for five years, and can be renewed as many times as necessary. Even if a person’s condition changes they will not have to return their certificate.
More information on this can be found on the NHS website
4. Think about what you are being prescribed, could it be cheaper to buy a medication over the counter? Many doctors will no longer prescribe items that are cheaper to purchase over the counter, to their patients, but you may still come across instances where a product may have a cheaper variation, or there may be a different brand, that's just as effective, that you can use instead. Ultimately it's saving you money and also saving the NHS money as well.
Also only don't only consider name brands when it comes to buying medications. Look at the ingredients on the back of the pack and then compare them with the ingredients on a cheaper brand, such as supermarket own brands, and see if there is any difference. Very often the ingredients are the same, and by purchasing the cheaper brand, you are saving yourself some cold hard cash! Why pay more, just because it's a well know brand, if the cheaper version is going to be just as effective!
5. If you have a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help you pay for:
* NHS prescription charges * NHS dental treatment charges * The cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses * The cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment * NHS wigs and fabric supports (check with your hospital for their arrangements for supplying NHS wigs)
The amount of help you’re entitled to depends on your household income and outgoings. Any help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner, if you have one.
If you have already paid for treatment, you can apply for a refund at the same time as you apply for the scheme.
Anyone can apply as long as they don't have savings or investments over a certain limit. You can't get help if you or your partner (or both) have more than:
* £16,000 in savings, investments or property (not including the place where you live) * £23,250 in savings, investments or property if you live permanently in a care home (£24,000 if you live in Wales)
Some people can now apply online for the NHS Low Income Scheme.
If you are over 60, don't live with a partner and your only income is from a pension, you might be able to apply online. You can use the ~NHS eligibility checker to find out if you can apply.
Who doesn't need to apply
You don't need to apply if you're already entitled to full help with health costs.
You already get full help with health costs if you or your partner get:
Income Support Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Pension Credit Guarantee Credit Universal Credit - if your earnings during your last complete assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if you had a child element or had limited capability for work
You’re also entitled to full help if you are named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
Any dependent children under 20 included on your benefit or tax credit claim are also entitled to the same help.
How much help you get depends on your weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have at the time you apply.
Your council tax and housing costs will be used in the assessment. This means that even if your income is too high for Income Support, you might still get help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
If you have a partner, their income will also be taken into account as part of your assessment, as will the income of any other people who live with you (excluding children or dependent young people).
You can find out more about this scheme on the NHS website
Information correct as of 3rd March 2020