Being unwell can sometimes be very expensive. So, we’ve put together some very simple tips and advice on how you can make this time easier on the pocket by not overspending on NHS prescriptions.
Over the last 10 years, the cost of an NHS prescription in England has risen from £7.40 to the most recent increase on 1st April 2021 to £9.35, and it doesn’t look to stop rising anytime soon.
Rather than just accepting the full price, take a look at some of the cost-effective solutions you can try that are there but not everyone knows about.
Here are 7 simple things you can do to stop overspending and make NHS prescription and health costs that much cheaper.
Get your GP to prescribe in bigger quantities
Your GP can quite usually give you a few weeks or a month’s worth of medicines but if you know you’ll need the prescription on an ongoing basis, you’ll need to go back for a repeat prescription and have to pay every time.
If you know you’ll need a drug for the next three months – get them to prescribe it on one prescription. This way you will only pay one prescription charge rather than multiples times.
Buy from an online pharmacy
Buying medicines online can definitely save you money, but make sure it’s a legit business such as the Oxford Online Pharmacy before going down this route.
The easiest way to do this is to check that the pharmacy is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Use generic brands
If a brand can afford to advertise on TV you can guess that they’ll be more expensive than a brand that doesn’t advertise in the same way. The same goes for shoes, TVs and even medicines!
The thing is, generic medications have the same active ingredients like the ones in shiny packages and do exactly the same thing. Buy these instead and save a fortune.
A small simple change such as buying generically branded Paracetamol instead of the pricey alternatives can literally save you hundreds of pounds a year.
You can make things like cough medicine at home with some honey, ginger and lemon – they have been scientifically proven to be just as effective.
Check out my favourite recipe for a homemade natural cough syrup.
Try your pharmacist
If you have a minor condition, try your pharmacist – they have a whole host of medications they can provide free of charge if you’re eligible.
Plus, some medicines work our cheaper to buy over the counter than the prescription charge so if you don’t need to see your GP, the pharmacist is a great option.
Your local pharmacist may offer an NHS Minor Ailments service which allows you to see your pharmacist to get treatment for a whole host of conditions; backache, colds, hay fever, nappy rash, earache, threadworm and many many more.
Your pharmacist may be able to prescribe the treatment you need without seeing your GP and in some cases provide this to you for free.
Use the Prepayment Service
The Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) allows you to reduce the cost of prescriptions over a three month or yearly basis.
If you need more than a couple of prescription items each month you can save money by buying a prescription prepayment certificate.
This fantastic scheme is run by the NHS and allows anybody to potentially save hundreds of pounds a year. You must of course weigh up your current or potential spend vs the cost of a PPC.
- A three month PPC costs £30.25 and allows you to get as many items as you need for free during that three month period.
- A twelve month PPC costs £108.10 and allows you to get as many items free during that year as you need.
It doesn’t matter if you need lotions, potions or boring old pain killers – you simply show the pharmacist your prepayment certificate and you walk out of the pharmacy without having to pay a penny!
Have you become suddenly unwell and didn’t have time to plan? Have no fear! You can call the NHSBA on 0300 330 1341 and buy your certificate over the telephone. Ask for your certificate number and you can start immediately.
You can buy your PPC online by either Debit Card or Direct Debit.
Apply for free prescriptions
The NHS Low Income Scheme allows households on a low income to get their prescriptions at a reduced rate.
If you simply can’t afford to pay for your prescriptions the NHS provides a scheme, especially for low-income families. The scheme covers things like; prescription costs, dental costs, eye care and wigs.
Anyone can apply as long as they do not have savings or investments over a certain limit. You cannot get help if you or your partner (or both) have more than:
- £16,000 in savings, investments or property (not including the place where you live)
- £23,250 in savings, investments or property if you live permanently in a care home (£24,000 if you live in Wales)
Depending on your circumstances, you can receive “full help” (HC2 certificate) or “partial help” (HC3 certificate).
You don’t need to apply if you or your partner:
- get Income Support
- get income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- get income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- get Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- are named on or entitled to an NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate
- gets Universal Credit and meets the criteria
These benefits or tax credits already entitle you to full help with health costs.
To apply you need an HC1 form you can order yours here.
Using these tips can certainly save you money on NHS prescription charges.
Remember that the above does not constitute medical advice and you should contact your GP or health practitioner for advice specific to your health needs. In an emergency, you should always call 999.