NHS prescriptions are still FREE for over-60s – why YOU may never have to pay

The Government is consulting on plans to lift the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England from 60 to State Pension age, which is currently 66. It argues that many people aged from 60 to 65 remain in employment and can therefore afford to meet the cost.

The consultation closed on 3 September and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is now analysing the results. 

While it deliberates the over 60s will continue to qualify for free NHS prescriptions until further notification, said Laura Cockram, chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition.

“As yet, no changes have been made. When people reach 60 in England, they are still exempt from paying for their prescriptions.”

She said the coalition is encouraging MPs to raise their opposition in Parliament.

“We’ll continue to highlight the dire impact of the proposals to those living with health conditions and those over 60.”

Age UK has called plans to end free NHS prescriptions for the over 60s a “bitter pill to swallow for millions”.

Director Caroline Abrahams said the proposal is particularly unfair because prescriptions are free for EVERYONE in Scotland and Wales.

She would like to see that principle extended to England. “There’s a strong public health case for free prescriptions.”

If the change is made, 60-65 year olds will have to pay for their prescriptions unless they qualify for certain benefits or have a medical exemption.

This means many will escape paying even if the Government introduces charges.

READ MORE: Free NHS prescriptions cut would be ‘devastating’ for pensioners

Those with certain medical problems are also eligible for free NHS prescriptions, regardless of their age.

Medical exemption certificates are issued if you have serious illnesses such as cancer, a permanent fistula, a form of hypoadrenalism such as Addison’s disease, diabetes, hypoparathyroidism, myasthenia gravis, myxoedema and epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy.

Those who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate, where the prescription is for an accepted disability, may also qualify for free prescriptions.

All NHS inpatients get free prescriptions.

For everyone else, it is now down to the DHSC. Its spokesperson said: “We’ll be responding to the consultation in due course.”

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