Being unwell can sometimes be very expensive. So, I’ve teamed up with Skint Dad to bring you some very simple tips and advice on how you can make this time easier on the pocket by not overspending on NHS prescriptions.
As a Nurse I see patients struggling to pay for their health needs all the time and I have even been there; five items at £8.20 each is a lot of money – even for the best of us.
Rather than just accepting 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 six 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.
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 as 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 favorite 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 also offer a NHS Minor Ailments service which allows you to see your pharmacist to get treatment for a whole host of conditions; back-ache, 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 £29.10 and allows you to get as many items as you need for free during that three month period.
- A twelve month PPC costs £104 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 for 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.
You must have an income of less than £16,000 per year to be eligible for this scheme. It doesn’t matter if that money comes from benefits or employment. 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 but remember that 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.
Matt is a Registered Nurse in specialising in Critical Care & Emergency Medicine, he is passionate about our NHS and is an NHS activist. Alongside his job Matt is a quintessential geek who loves every kind of gadget!
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