Should NHS free prescription age rise to state pension age? How you can share your views

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The upper age limit for prescription charges means people aged 60 and older are among a number of other groups who are eligible for free NHS prescriptions. However, a consultation on aligning the upper age for NHS prescription exemptions with state pension age – which is currently 66 – was recently launched.

“Prescription charges are an important source of income for the NHS, and the costs of providing free prescriptions continue to increase with our aging population.

“I encourage anyone with views on our proposals to share them through the consultation response form, available online on GOV.UK.”

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Currently, people can get free prescriptions when they turn 60 in England.

This hasn’t changed since 1974 for women, and 1995 for men.

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The state pension age in England is now 66, and it is planned to increase further for men and women to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

There are two options set out for changing the upper age exemptions, and it’s this which people can express their views on in the consultation.

Option A

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“Option A is to raise the qualifying age for free prescriptions to the SPA (currently 66) for everyone,” the Government explained.

“This would mean that following changes to the Charges Regulations people aged 65 and under would have to pay for their prescriptions until they reach the age of 66, unless they qualified for another exemption.”

Option B

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“Option B is to raise the qualifying age for free prescriptions to the SPA (currently 66) but with a period of protection, which would mean that people in the age range 60 to 65 would continue to receive free prescriptions.

“This would mean that anyone aged 60 and over when the changes to the Charges Regulations are implemented would continue to be exempt from prescription charges, whereas those aged 59 and under when the changes to the Charges Regulations are implemented would have to pay for their prescriptions until they reach the SPA (currently 66), unless they qualified for another exemption.”

The consultation is open for nine weeks, and Britons have until 11.45pm on Thursday September 2, 2021 to submit their responses.

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So, how can a person respond to the consultation?

The Government says the preferred method to receive responses is via the online consultation questionnaire on the Department of Health and Social Care’s website.

However, people who have any queries on the consultation, or who require an alternative format, are directed to email [email protected]

Thos without internet or email access can write to:

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Prescribing Policy and Charges Team

Department of Health and Social Care

Floor 2, Area G, Quarry House

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Quarry Hill

Leeds LS2 7UE

“If you wish to do so, you can request that your name and organisation be kept confidential and excluded from the published summary of responses,” GOV.UK explained.

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