In the UK, the rules for free prescriptions differ depending on the country in which a person lives. For example, those living in Scotland and Wales can claim free medicines regardless of age. In comparison, people living in England can also get free prescriptions if they are 60 or older.
As a result, many end up losing hundreds of pounds a year due to the costs of drugs which are readily available free through the NHS in other parts of the country.
One of the main ways people save money on prescriptions is to buy a prepayment certificate or otherwise known PPC.
Those who need regular medication can afford it by making a large payment that can cover their prescriptions for a while.
Savers can choose to purchase a prepayment certificate for three months or 12 months, depending on their situation.
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Once a person receives this grant, all their prescriptions are covered by it.
Someone claiming two rounds of medication a month could get a discount saving £100 a year.
This discount is accessible via the NHS prescriptions website and people have the option of paying by card or direct debit.
Someone who becomes eligible for free prescriptions after purchasing a certificate can recoup the prorated cost for that period.
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Stuart Gale, chief pharmacist of Oxford Online Pharmacy, noted how much individuals can save on their medications by purchasing the certificate.
Mr Gale explained: “While prescriptions are free in the rest of the UK, for those in England they cost £9.35 for each item.
“If you are prescribed more than three items, or if you need at least one prescription per month for a long time, a prepaid certification is a big savings as these have capped charges.
“A PPC for three months costs £35.25, or £108.12 for 12 months. For example, without PPC it would cost £336.60 if you need three prescriptions per month.
“It not only saves pounds but also helps you budget for a fixed cost, particularly if you need other additional prescriptions during the year.”
However, the savings expert reminded some groups to also check their eligibility for free prescriptions.
He added: ‘Consumers in England should first check whether they can qualify for free prescriptions – this may include ‘MEDEX’ medical exemption certificates for conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and cancer .
‘Prescribed contraceptives are also free or if you are pregnant or have given birth within the previous year, a ‘MATEX’ maternity exemption certificate will provide free medication.
“You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you are under 16 or over 60, are in full-time study between the ages of 16 and 18, are hospitalized in the NHS, are on medical Income, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit – so check with your pharmacist if you might qualify.
Medical Exemption Certificates are available for thousands of people in the UK who have eligible medical conditions.
Some of the health conditions that qualify a person for a Medical Exemption Certificate include:
A permanent fistula that requires a continuous surgical dressing or device
A form of hypoadrenalism that requires specific replacement therapy
Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
Diabetes mellitus, except when treated with diet alone
Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsant treatment.