Millions of Britons in England may soon be charged for their medication, as the Government plans to raise the qualifying age for free NHS prescriptions to 66, in line with the state pension age. But what does this mean for others entitled to free prescriptions? And can you get free prescriptions if you receive Universal Credit?
Most treatments on the NHS are free, but notable exceptions include paying for prescriptions.
Most Britons have to pay for their prescriptions, but there are exceptions including those for people of certain ages, people receiving benefits and pregnant women.
Anyone aged under 16, between 16 and 18 but in full-time education, or over 60 is automatically eligible for free prescriptions.
For older people, the Government is planning to raise the qualifying age for free prescription from 60 to 66, which could come into force as early as April 2022.
Some prescriptions are always free, such as contraception, but others have to be paid for, unless you are in an exempt group.
Do people receiving Universal Credit receive free prescriptions?
According to advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, people receiving Universal Credit (UC) are entitled to help with health costs if their earnings are below £435 during the assessment period before the health expense.
You will also be entitled to help with your health costs if your earnings were below £935 during the assessment period before you needed to pay for the health cost, and your UC includes an element for a:
- Health problem
- Limited capacity for work
If you receive one of these benefits, your partner and any dependent young people under 20 are also entitled to free prescriptions.
If you or your partner gets Pension Credit Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit with Savings Credit, you are eligible for free prescriptions.
Can you get free NHS prescriptions if you are on a low income?
People on a low income, such as students and pensioners, can apply for a HC2 certificate which allows them to access free prescriptions.
If you receive contribution-based benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance you aren’t immediately eligible for free NHS prescriptions, but you can apply for help from the NHS low income scheme.