Millions eligible for free medicine at pharmacies – do you qualify?

EVERYTHING is expensive right now – and that includes our medicines.

NHS prescription prices have risen by over 22 per cent over the last nine years.

There are 15 groups of people who don’t have to pay a penny for their medicines

There are 15 groups of people who don’t have to pay a penny for their medicinesCredit: Getty – Contributor

Luckily this year – in light of the rising cost of living – the Government froze prescription prices at £9.35 per item.

What’s more, there are currently 15 different groups of people who don’t have to pay a penny for their medicines.

However, plans are in the pipeline to make more people pay for their prescriptions.

Currently, free prescriptions are available for those under 16 years old or 16, 17 and 18 and in full time education, or over 60.

Pregnant women and new mothers are eligible to claim free prescriptions

Certain illnesses can also exempt you from prescription charges as well as being on some benefits.

Some people are also eligible for free flu vaccines this winter.

The full list of people who don’t have to pay for prescriptions include those who:

1. Are 60 or over

2. Are under 16

3. Are 16 to 18 and in full-time education

4. Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)

5. Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

6. Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

7. Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

8. Are an NHS inpatient

If you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

9. Income Support

10. Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

11. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

12. Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

13. Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you’re entitled to or named on:

14. A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you 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

15. A valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).

You can also use this questionnaire – “Check before you tick” – to see if you are eligible in case you are not sure.

For all the above exemptions, the pharmacist will ask for proof of eligibility.

For those who don’t qualify for free prescriptions but are struggling financially, there are other means of support such as prepayment certificates and the NHS low income scheme.

Your pharmacist should be able to advise you on whether you qualify for the schemes.

What medical conditions are covered?

  • cancer
  • a permanent fistula
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person

These people can have credit-card sized cards that show they are medically exempt, which lasts for five years and will need renewal.

If you believe you fall under this category, but don’t have a card, ask your doctor for an FP92A form.

The 6 groups eligible for free flu jabs

Under plans announced on yesterday, about 33 million people in England will be eligible for a free flu vaccine this year.

This will include all primary-age and some secondary-age children, who will be offered the nasal spray.

Those eligible for the flu jab are:

  1. People aged 50 and over
  2. Those aged six months to 49 with a specified health condition
  3. Secondary school-aged children focusing on Years 7, 8 and 9 with any remaining vaccine offered to Years 10 and 11
  4. Primary school-aged children
  5. Pregnant women; those in care homes, frontline health and social care staff
  6. Carers and the household contacts of people with weakened immune systems

Where can I get the jab?

Those who are eligible can get the vaccine from their GP surgery or pharmacies offering an NHS vaccine service – you’ll have to contact them to book. 

Try using this NHS tool to find a pharmacy offering the vaccine near you.