Paying for medicines
Good news up front if you live in Scotland or Wales – all prescriptions are free of charge. You must be registered with a Scottish or Welsh GP and get your prescription from a pharmacy in those countries. There are also ‘entitlement cards’ if you live near a border with England. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about this.
Read on if you live in England and need to know about paying for prescriptions – there are ways to get help.
People who do not have to pay for prescriptions
Some young people automatically do not have to pay for their prescriptions. You can tick the right box and sign the back of the prescription if you:
- Are aged under 16
- Are aged 16, 17 or 18 and are also in full-time education
- Have a maternity exemption certificate (for pregnant women and mothers of a child up to 12 months old)
- Have a medical exemption certificate (for some physical health conditions – ask your GP)
- Receive Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit
- Receive Income Support or Income–related Employment and Support Allowance (or your family) Receive Family Tax Credits
You need to have your certificate for proof to tick the box. If you have applied, but not got your certificate, you should pay the charge and ask for a NHS England receipt. You can claim a refund from NHS England when you get your certificate. Ask your pharmacist how to do this.
HC1 form – NHS England low income scheme
Students older than 18, and others aged over 16 on low incomes but not receiving benefits, could get help with prescription costs from the NHS. You need to get form HC1: your GP practice or pharmacy will have copies. It’s a bit more complicated to fill in, and you may have to send proof of your income. But it could be worth it if you can get NHS help. Young people aged 16-17 leaving care can get a short version of the HC1 and your key worker should help you to complete it.
If you qualify for help, you will receive a HC2 certificate. When you get it, you should look on the back of your prescription and tick the ‘is named on a current HC2 charges certificate’ box.
Note for young people in Scotland: If you live in Scotland and want to use the ‘Minor Ailments Service (MAS)’ to get medicines for common illnesses direct from pharmacies, you would also need a HC2 form or to be exempt for one of the reasons above.
If you do not qualify for free prescriptions, and you have to pay for more than three items over 3 months, a prepayment certificate (PPC) could save you money.
You can get a 3-month or 12-month PPC. You can even buy a 12-month PPC by direct debit. You can buy them online at https://apps.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/ppcwebsales/
When you have got your certificate, you should look on the back of your prescription and tick the ‘has a valid pre-payment certificate’ box. If you have applied, but not got it, you should pay the charge and ask for a NHS England receipt. You can claim a refund from NHS England when you get your certificate.
Read this for more information on help with prescription costs in England:
Read this for help understanding free prescriptions in Wales, and whether you would have to pay if you bring your prescription into England:
Useful information about health costs across the UK (including Northern Ireland)