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Help with health costs

Prescription costs

Prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) are available in England and they can save you money.

Prescription costs as of April 1 2011

  • The current prescription charge is £7.40.
  • From 1 April 2010 a three monthly PPC is £29.10. This saves you money if you need four or more items in three months.
  • A 12 month certificate is £104.00 and saves money if 15 or more items are needed in 12 months.

PPCs are available by 10 monthly direct debit instalment payments. The prescription prepayment certificates allow anyone to obtain all the prescriptions they need for £2 per week. 

Find out more in the section 'What is the prescription prepayment certificate?' below.

What is available for free? show

The following items are supplied free of charge:

 

Who is entitled to free prescriptions? show

You can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you:

  • are 60 or over
  • are under 16
  • are 16-18 and in full-time education
  • are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)  
  • have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • are an NHS inpatient

You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partners) are named on, or are entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid HC2 certificate (full help with health costs), or you receive either:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or  
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit 

 Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

Exemption for pregnant women show

If you are pregnant, or have had a baby in the last 12 months, you get free:

  • NHS prescriptions, but only if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • NHS dental treatment if, when you are accepted for a course of treatment, you are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months

To apply for your maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) ask your doctor, nurse, midwife or health visitor for form FW8. You complete parts 1 and 2 of the form and your doctor, midwife or health visitor signs it to confirm that the information given by you is correct.

Your MatEx will last until 12 months after the expected date of birth of your baby. If your baby is born early you can continue to use your MatEx until the certificate expires. If your baby is born late you can apply for an extension. If you apply after your baby is born, your MatEx will run for 12 months from your baby’s birth.

For more information on how to apply for a MatEx visit the NHS Business Services Authority website. 

Exemption for people with a specified medical condition show

Medical exemption (MedEx) certificates are issued on application to people who have:

  • a permanent fistula (for example caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) requiring an appliance or continuous surgical dressing
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example Addison's disease) for which specific substitution therapy is needed
  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • continuing physical disability that prevents the person from going out without help from another person. Temporary disabilities do not count even if they last for several months

You are also issued with a MedEx if you are undergoing treatment for cancer. This includes treatment for the effects of cancer or for the effects of cancer treatments.

To apply for a MedEx certificate ask your doctor for an FP92A form. Your GP, hospital or service doctor will sign the form to confirm that your statement is correct. At your GP's discretion, a member of the practice who has access to your medical records can also sign the form.

Your certificate will be valid from one month before the date that the NHS Business Services Authority receives the application form.

The MedEx lasts for five years and then needs to be renewed. You may receive a reminder that your certificate needs to be renewed. If you don't receive a reminder, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is renewed.

Exemption for cancer patients show

Prescription charges for cancer patients were abolished on April 1 2009.

Patients being treated for cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of cancer treatment, can apply for a medical exemption (MedEx) certificate. If you have cancer ask your doctor for an application form. This will need to be countersigned by your GP, hospital or service doctor (or, at your GP's discretion, a member of the practice who has access to your medical records).

Arrangements for all other NHS charges remain unchanged.

 

Exemption for renal dialysis patients show

Any renal dialysis patient who has a permanent fistula (permanent means lasting indefinitely) that requires an appliance or surgical dressing, is entitled to medical exemption if they have completed application form FP92A and a doctor has signed the form to confirm the condition. Whether or not you have a permanent fistula that requires an appliance or surgical dressing is a matter for your doctor's clinical judgement.

The criteria are met where there is a clinical need for a permanent fistula to be covered by a surgical dressing (for example between haemodialysis treatments) or by an appliance (such as a catheter for peritoneal dialysis).

 

 

I am on a low income, how can I get help with NHS charges? show

If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may be able to give you one, too. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0845 610 1112.

Whether you qualify for help is based on a comparison between your weekly income and assessed requirements at the time the claim is made. For more information about requirements visit NHS: help with health costs.

You will qualify for a full help HC2 certificate (which includes free NHS prescriptions) if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or your income is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge.

You will qualify for a limited help HC3 certificate if your income is greater than your requirements by more than half the current English prescription charge. The HC3 certificate shows how much you have to pay towards your health costs.

Certificates are usually valid for periods of between six months and five years, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

What is the prescription prepayment certificate (PPC)? show

If you are not entitled to free prescriptions and you think you will have to pay for four or more prescriptions in three months, or 15 or more items in 12 months, you may find it cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).

You can only use the PPC for your own NHS prescriptions. The PPC will start from the date of your application or phone call unless you request a different start date. You can request a start date of up to one month earlier or one month later than the date of your application or phone call.

Details of the current prescription charges and prepayment certificate costs are available in leaflet HC12: charges and optical voucher values (PDF, 158kb).

You can choose to pay for a 12 month PPC in a lump sum or by 10 monthly direct debit instalments. If you pay by direct debit you are entering into a commitment to pay all the instalments.

You can order a PPC online, by phoning 0845 850 0030 or by filling in an FP95 form. An FP95 form is available from some pharmacies and GP surgeries. 

Remember to apply for a new PPC in good time. If you don't you will have to pay prescription charges when your old PPC runs out.

If you have to pay a prescription charge while you are waiting for your PPC, you can't get a refund unless you have an NHS receipt. The NHS receipt form is an FP57. The pharmacist or dispensing doctor can only issue an FP57 at the time you pay a prescription charge. They can't give you one later. You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to three months after paying. The FP57 form tells you what to do.

How can I claim a refund? show

Ask your pharmacist, hospital or doctor for an NHS receipt form FP57 when you pay for your prescription. You can't get one later. You have to apply for a refund within three months of paying the prescription charge.

If you have paid for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) and have become exempt from paying for prescriptions, you may be able to get some or all of the money back for your PPC.

An explanation of how to claim a refund of your PPC fee can be found on the NHS Business Services Authority website or in leaflet HC11: help with health costs (PDF, 287kb). You can also obtain the leaflet from the DH publications order line on 0845 610 1112.

Side effects: the Yellow Card Scheme

If your medicine is causing side effects, you can report them to the government's regulatory body using the Yellow Card Scheme, run by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Your local pharmacy

Pharmacies offer a lot more services today than in the past. Watch a video about what your pharmacist can do for you.

pgdliverpool said on 11 May 2011

My wife and i are going for I.V.F and there are a few drug the hospital will give us for the build up however these are in prescription form and will need to be purchased by us in the lead up to the treatment i was wondering if these pre and during I.V.F drugs are valid to collect with a pre-prescription payment card in my wifes name?
thanx pete

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pharmacyian said on 09 April 2011

The advice given below is wrong, the number of days treatment is decided by your Dr. NOT by what the medication is, as has been listed below.

Also Champix starter pack may have 2 strengths in the box, but is classed as a single charge to the patient but 2 fees to the pharmacist.

If you have a question, go ask a pharmacist!!!! Don't post it on here to receive the wrong answer from an unqualified person!

The person who answered about CanestenCombi, was correct!

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Dlt_debz said on 06 April 2011

in responce to sarah's post on 21/03/11 and sanna's post on 24/03/11 my understanding is (as someone who regularly gets prescribed multiple boxes of the same medication) unless each box is listed seperately on the prescription then you should only be paying as if it is one item, the 2 medications i currently have on prescription get given to me 2 boxes at a time and I only have to pay the minimum of what is now £7.40 for each type of medication

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Dlt_debz said on 06 April 2011

in response to kim (comment made 01/11/10) and nicky (comment made) 20/01/11), it actually depends on what the medication is as to the quantity of tablets prescribed. I suffer from an under active thyroid and my thyroxine prescription is for 48 days of tablets (1 a day), I am also taking the contraceptive pill and get 6 months supply (1 tablet a day for 3 weeks out of every 4 weeks), my partner however is on anti-depresants (1 a day), 2 types of blood pressure medication (1 of each a day) and prescribed antihistamins (2 tablets a day) and is only allowed 30 days worth of each at a time

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ben10scotland said on 02 April 2011

16 year olds wont have to pay prescription charges if they are in full time education

[16-18 year olds], on the Scottish prescription forms [GP(10)] this was option B, not sure what it would be on the equivalent form in England

If you are on more than one medicine in England, a community pharmacist should be able to discuss your medication with you and identify any he or she feels you may not need and make sure you are getting the most from them. It is called a MUR, Medicines Use Review - the same service isn't available outside England [from what I understand]

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ben10scotland said on 02 April 2011

Dont get any prescription items online [not in the UK and be very cautious elsewhere] - simple answer.

Your doctor should happily prescribe Champix provided it is suitable for you and the most appropriate option to help you stop smoking. Sometimes medicines online [possibly quite often] contain another medicine to the one that it is labelled as, it may contain no active ingredient or something dangerous and be mixed with compounds such as brick dust. Many medicines sold online are not what the company claims what they are [similar to street drugs being 'cut' withsubstances such as brick dust and flour] - in short if you buy from unregulated suppliers it could kill you

- one reason why prescription charges are dangerous as they may cause consumers to look to unknowingly illicit sources for medicines.

longer answer is that there are some reputable people to buy medicines from on the internet and you can identify them by using certain logos - I don't know what the logos are, I have seen sites where people send in prescriptions written by a doctor or vet and they fulfill them following recieving a fax or so of the prescription. I cant vouch for how safe using these companies to dispense prescription drugs are.

Pharmacy's professional regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council www.pharmacyregulation.org should produce guidance. Most if not all prescription medicine need careful assessment of your symptoms and concurrent medical conditions to prevent them causing harm as well as a knowledge of any other medicines you are on to prevent interactions occurring

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cheryl123fun said on 29 March 2011

prescription charges stand at £7.20 and as the first of April they go up to £7.40. This is for each item on the prescription. If you have an item that is cheaper to buy then you are entitled to buy it from of off the shelf or over the counter.

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Sanna91 said on 24 March 2011

*Canestan Combi

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Sanna91 said on 24 March 2011

Sarah00,
No you haven't been conned! The pharmacist was right, it is cheaper to buy it without the prescription. Canestan Duo on prescription costs £14.40 (two £7.20 charges are taken as there are two different products in the one box). The same goes for Champix (pills to help smokers quit). There are two different strengths of the pill in Champix so two prescription charges are taken.
:)

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Sarah00 said on 21 March 2011

Am I right in thinking that the minimum charge with a prescription is £7.20? So if a medicine costs more without a prescription, then I will only pay the prescription charge of £7.20?

If this is the case then I have been wrongly advised by my pharmacist, who told me that my medicine was cheaper without a prescription and charged me £11.63. The medicine in question is the Canesten Combi Pessary and Cream. If this is true then I have been conned. Can anyone help?

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Sarah00 said on 21 March 2011

Am I right in thinking that with a prescription the maximum charge is £7.20, so if a medicine costs more without a prescription, I should only pay £7.20? If this is right then I have been overcharged by my pharmacist who wrongly advised me that this medicine was cheaper without a prescription. The medicine in question is the Canesten Combi Pessary with cream. Was I conned?

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User529728 said on 16 February 2011

Should I have been charged for 2 items when they were a pesary and cream which are used in conjunction with each other and were together in a sealed box? The label said "1 item" but the pharmacist charged me for 2.

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Muffy Brainchild said on 10 February 2011

My problem is the opposite of 'How can I claim a refund'!

I did not pay for a prescription for my sixteen year-old daughter because I thought that she was covered by our family credit exemption but I found out (a few days later - aaargh!) that I should've paid.

So now I have a cheque for £7.20 but can't find out who to send it to; I am particularly worried by the last paragraph on the back of the tear-off portion of prescription which warns about "penalty charges" and anyway I do not want something that I'm not entitled to.

I have rung various people (Doctors, pharmacy, local health care trust) and nobody can tell me where to send the money.

Help.

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Junieh said on 09 February 2011

I think that it is appalling and totally not cost effective to make those who suffer from mental illness pay for their essential prescriptions - these drugs have some pretty awful side effects and having to pay makes taking these drugs less apealing and less likely to be taken by those who are on low incomes but not eligible for Income Support and thus free prescriptions. It costs thousands of pounds a day to hospitalise or treat mental health sufferers in their own homes by Crisis Resolution/Assessment Teams so it would be much cheaper for the NHS/Government to pay for preventative medicines; so isn't it about time the Government included these poor souls in their prescriptions exemption scheme...

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Lilu said on 06 February 2011

Hello!
I'm thinking about moving in UK (after graduating), but there are some concerns with my treatment: I have still's disease(diagnosed in 2010, april, I'm 24 years old). I'm taking now: Methotrexate 15 mg per week; 8 mg Medrol (Methylprednisolonum) every day; and 20 mg Arava(Leflunomide) every other day. In my home (Latvia) first & third medicaments I receive for free as a eligible drugs, of course with presciptions. And how is in UK, about this question?Patients with the same disease must pay full price?
Best Regards!
Thanks!

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Nicky1179 said on 20 January 2011

With regards to comment made by Kim on the 01/11/10, it's not age specific with regards to prescriptions. I'm 32 and I have to get a new prescription every month for tablets I have to take for my asthma. It's just the way it works out.

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targaid said on 12 November 2010

Why are there no regular phone numbers or the option to e-mail or apply for forms directly through the site? Even printing them yourself? Most of these forms are for low-income families and you are making us pay a higher rate for calls. My tariff, for example, includes free calls to regular numbers, but charges higher than usual for calls to these sorts of lines.

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Kim Hinckley said on 01 November 2010

Why can i only get a prescription for 28 days! Do i really have to go back every month for a daily tablet i need for the rest of my life!
If i was 30 + i wouldn't have this problem!
Ageist!

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Prescriptions Team said on 22 September 2010

If you have queries about medical exemption certificates please phone the NHS BSA on 0845 601 8076.

If you have queries about prescription pre-payment certicates please phone the NHA BSA on 0845 850 0030.

For information and advice about help with health costs please phone the NHS BSA on 0845 850 1166.

To order a leaflet with additional information about help with health costs (the HC11 leaflet) or a leaflet on NHS charges and optical voucher values (the HC12 leaflet) please phone the NHS Forms Orderline 0845 610 1112.

To request an application form for the NHS Low Income Scheme (HC1 form) please phone the NHS Forms Orderline on 0845 610 1112.

To request a refund claim form phone the NHS Forms Orderline on 0845 610 1112 and ask for the optical, travel, or dental version of the HC5 form. If you require refund of prescription charges you must ask for form FP57 when you pay the prescription charge the form is not available afterwards.

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Krishna Rachakonda said on 21 September 2010

can some one advice me to have claim for help with health costs as i am a International Student studying my masters .

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T Frank said on 07 September 2010

Hi

My wife and I both have Presceiption Prepayment Certificates.
We have recently moved home, do we need to change our address or do we only do this when we renew the certs.

Frank

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lilly clark said on 02 September 2010

Have medical exemption cert. for thyroid treatment. Also have alopecia and now hospital informed me this does not include 2 wigs I am entitled to annually (having to pay £60 for each prescription). Is this true, as for the last 3 years the exemption cert. covered this cost?

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Nickster74 said on 28 August 2010

does anyone know how i can replace a medical exemption certificate, i think i lost mine during my move and my new pharmisist won't allow me free prescriptions without it. i only got a new one last year so it's not due for renewal for another four years.

any help appreciated, nickster.

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davidwright said on 27 August 2010

Can someone advise me where I can contact the NHS to advise of change of address as my Prescription Charge medical exemption is due for renewal and I'm afraid the letter will be sent to my old address.

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Danners said on 23 February 2010

What is your advice on getting prescriptions online? I have researched a site and all looks legal but would like to doublecheck. SIte is http://www.doctorfox.co.uk - I only want to get some champix tablets.

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Last reviewed: 01/04/2011

Next review due: 31/03/2013

Important numbers

Phone 0845 601 8076 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Phone 0845 850 0030 for queries about PPCs.

Phone 0845 609 9299 for queries about tax credit certificates

For all other queries call 0845 850 1166

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