A new consultation is seeking opinions on uprating the free prescription age to align it with the state pension age
Radical new proposals could see State Pension age aligned with NHS prescription charge exemptions, the Government has stated.
Prescriptions are presently free for people 60 and over. However, a new consultation is seeking opinions on uprating the free prescription age so it aligns with the state pension age, which rose to 66 last October.
The state pension age is rising, and could hit 67 by 2028, which means, over time, Britons may have to wait even longer to unlock this entitlement.
There has been a furore over the proposal, with older people hitting back at the prospect of having to pay for their prescriptions.
Some experts have also debated the potential move and questioned the reasoning.
Thorrun Govind, Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board chairman, said: The proposal to raise the age at which people can access free prescriptions from 60 to 66 means that many more people will be affected by this tax on the sick at exactly the time at which they may be needing more medicines.
It is unacceptable to raise the cost of prescriptions in the current economic situation when many have been disadvantaged by the pandemic, she said. Such proposals will only further drive the health inequalities that have been highlighted by COVID-19.
RPS would like to see the complete abolishment of prescription charges in England, whatever the age group, as is the case in Scotland and Wales, she said.
However, certain individuals will still be able to secure a free prescription, even if these changes go ahead.
Individuals who are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate will qualify if they get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element, and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less.
Apart from this category, those have a valid NHS prescription for full help with health costs, known as HC2 will also be eligible for a free prescription.
Those who have a specified medical condition and also have a valid medical exemption certificate – known as MedEx will be able to get a free prescription.
Thankfully, there is a simple way for Britons to find out whether or not they are eligible for a free NHS prescription, as well as assistance with other NHS costs. This is available through the NHS’ official eligibility checker online.
When the announcement of the consultation was made, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Express: The age people get free prescriptions in England has not changed since 1974 for women, and 1995 for men so we are consulting on aligning the upper age exemption from prescription charges with the state pension age.
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