Prescription Charges/Entitlements (UK)

Prescription Charges/Entitlements

The position is that entitlement to help with prescription charges is based
on the principle that those who can afford to contribute should do so,
while those who are likely to have difficulty in paying should be
protected. For example, children under 16 and people aged 60 or more are
entitled to free NHS prescriptions. In addition, people with specified
medical conditions are also exempt from prescription charges.

The Specified Medical Conditions Are: -

Permanent Fistula (including
Caecostomy, Colostomy, Laryngostomy, or Ileostomy) which requires
continuous surgical dressing or requires an appliance; forms of
Hypoadrenalism (including Addison's disease) for which specific
substitution therapy is essential; Diabetes Insipidus or other forms of
Hypopituitarism; Diabetes Mellitus (except where treatment is by diet
alone); Hypoparathyroidism; Myasthenia Gravis; Myxoedema; Epilepsy
requiring continuous anti-convulsive therapy; continuing physical
disability which prevents the patient from leaving his residence without
the help of another person. To be exempt from charges the person must also
hold a valid exemption certificate.

I should explain that the list of medical conditions conferring
prescription charge exemption was introduced in 1968 after being agreed in
discussion with the medical profession. The list has been reviewed on a
number of occasions, most recently in 1998 as part of the Government's
Comprehensive Spending Review, but no clear cut case for extending it has
since emerged.

Whilst the Government acknowledges the representations to extend the
exemption arrangements to Crohn's Disease and other medical conditions,
they have no plans to change the charging arrangements. The basis of the
Government's policy is to help those who may have difficulty paying
charges. The current exemption and charge remission arrangements are
intended to ensure that no-one need be deterred from obtaining any
necessary medication on financial grounds.

It may be helpful if I explain that people who have to pay NHS charges can
seek help under the NHS low-income scheme, which provides help with health
costs on an income related basis. The amount of help is based on a
comparison between a person's income and requirements (needs) at the time a
claim is received or a charge was paid if a refund is claimed.

In addition, people who have to pay NHS prescription charges and need them
regularly or need a lot of prescription items could save money with a
prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). A four monthly PPC (costing
£32.40) or an annual PPC (costing £89.00) will save people money if they
need more than 5 items in 4 months or 14 items in 12 months. The PPC
application form FP95 is available from main post offices, pharmacists and
the Department's website below.

For more information about the extensive arrangements for providing help
with NHS prescription charges and other health costs see leaflet HC11 Are
you entitled to help with health costs? which is available from Benefit
offices and NHS hospitals. Dentists, opticians, pharmacists or doctors
might also have them. This leaflet and further information about help with
health costs is also available through the Department's website at:

They say exemption from prescription charges are there for those on low incomes and is designed so that those who can afford to pay do. This would not be so bad, but as I see it there must be people who are diabetic or with thyroid problems or any of the conditions listed who are on high incomes! Also, the list of conditions was reviewed in 1998 under the Government spending review and it was decided not to add any more conditions to it. Sounds like they know adding any more conditions will cost them lots, so they just won't do it.