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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition that requires lots of medication you may be worried about NHS Prescription Charges – Could you save with a PPC?
There’s been a lot of talk about NHS prescription charges at my parents house recently. When their Tax Credit exemption certificates failed to arrive in April, my Mum rang to see where there were, only be told as a household they no longer qualified because they earn too much. Fine. Fair enough. Except my Dad’s wages haven’t actually increased since the last certificates were sent out, or the ones before.
It turns out there’s been a bit of a cock up and thousands of people that claim disability allowance (as both my parents do) were sent exemption certificates in error and this has only been rectified this April.
If this is a situation you are currently finding yourself in then read on – we’ve found plenty of options that should help ease the costs.
Initially they had a bit of a panic. As they are only just over the threshold for the amount needed to qualify the additional money they will need to spend between them on prescriptions, opticians, dentists appointments etc will leave them significantly less well of. But all things considered there does need to be a cut off point and unfortunately for them, they are right on it.
However, after a bit of research we did find several things they could do to help with the costs.
NHS Prepayment Certificate or PPC
The NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate is great way to save money if you take a lot of medication and need a lot of prescriptions. If you have more than one prescription each month it will save you money over the course of the year. Simply set up a direct debit and the money is taken over ten months of the year – it’s just £10.40 a month. It also auto renews so you won’t ever be without it unless you choose to cancel. It covers all prescriptions – so can be used even if you need antibiotics for something like an abscess or chest infection that isn’t on your usual repeat prescription. You can also have it for a shorter term – for example if you need medication after an operation but won’t be on it permanently.
It seems very few people actually know about this – my Dad works at a hospital and some of the nurses he spoke to had never heard of it. He’s also seen pharmacy assistants that were unaware of it and had to have the certificate verified by the pharmacist.
Medical Exemption Certificate
There are some medical conditions that allow you to get your prescriptions for free – you find a full copy of the list here. It includes things like diabetes and epilepsy which require continued ongoing medical treatment. It does NOT include Asthma (personally I think it should, but that’s another argument for another day!)
My mum actually has diabetes which is controlled with metformin. Luckily she already had a check-up booked when she found she was no longer entitled to the usual exemption certificate and after discussing with the nurse she was able to get a new certificate that lasts for five years.
However, this certificate does not help with the cost of Dental treatment which is probably one of the most expensive areas of no longer being entitled to the previous exemption certificate. Dental costs could easily run into the hundreds over the course of a year.
Age, Pregnancy & Low Income
There are also other factors that can contribute to whether or not you are entitled to free prescriptions and other NHS treatments.
If you are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months, you should get:
- free NHS dental treatment
- free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate
A maternity exemption certificate:
- entitles you to free prescriptions
- proves your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment
- is valid for 12 months after your baby’s date of birth
Once Aged 60+ you could get
- Free Prescriptions
- Free eye tests
- Help with Dental Cost
If none of the above apply but you are still struggling with the cost of prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment you can apply for help from the NHS Low Income Scheme. This is for people who earn too much for the usual exemption certificate but still need help with costs because of high outgoings. Your monthly outgoings will be assessed along with your income and any savings and investments you may have.