Free prescriptions could be axed for MILLIONS – are you affected?
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Prescription payments recently maxed out at £9.35 a month, thanks to a push that raised them from April 1 this year. Not everyone has to fork over nearly £10 a month, however, as low-income and exempted Britons can claim prescriptions without charge. But incoming proposed changes to state pension could jeopardise their entitlement.
Could you lose your free prescription?
Free prescriptions exist to help people who may not otherwise have the means to pay for medical treatment.
Without them, many of those entitled would see their bank accounts and overall health suffer.
The NHS prioritises a selection of groups based on age, income and condition.
Groups eligible for free prescriptions include:
- People aged 60 or over
- People aged under 16
- People aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Pregnant people or those who have given birth in the last 12 months and have a MatEx
- People with a medical condition and valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- Those with a MedEx and physical disability that prevents them from going out without help and
- Those requiring medication for an accepted disability with a valid war pension exemption certificate
- NHS inpatients
Those claiming free prescriptions as they turn 60 are now at risk of losing their entitlement.
The Department of Health has kept the age limit in place but has recently launched a consultation on raising it in line with pensions.
Should the plans get the green light, free prescription entitlement will shift from age 60 to 66.
And this would have a direct impact on the roughly 2.4 million older people claiming on the NHS.
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Early estimates suggest the move would pay off for the health service.
Millions more paid prescriptions could raise an additional £300million more for the NHS by 2027.
But the increased profit could come at a profound cost for the health of the UK’s ageing population.
Age UK, the country’s largest charity for older people, has railed against the prospect.
Jan Shortt, National Pensioners Convention general secretary, said raising the free prescription age would have a “massive negative effect” on their health.
She added prescription charges “are not affordable” for those on a low income and without financial assistance.
The charity has launched the “Save Free Prescriptions” campaign to convince the Government of the benefit’s necessity.
The campaign aims to have ministers consider older people first before the consultation closes in two weeks.
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