Feeling unwell, dealing with an illness or a long-term condition is bad enough, but having to spend lots of money on expensive prescriptions can make a difficult situation even worse.
If the costs are starting to add up, the first thing to do is to check whether you are entitled to free NHS prescriptions. The NHS Choices website includes a breakdown of who is able to get a free prescription. This includes people aged 60 or over, pregnant women or those who have had a baby within the last 12 months (and have a valid Maternity Exemption certificate) and those with a valid Medical Exemption Certificate. Find out more about these on the NHS BSA website.
If you do pay for your medicine, it’s worth shopping around, including using online pharmacists which may offer a better price for the medicine you need. You might also be surprised to learn that many online pharmacies offer a prescription service where you can enter the details of your illness online and receive a diagnosis and prescription medicine. For example, imagine you want to buy Salamol Easi-breathe online. All you need to do is answer a few questions and your prescription will be processed and sent directly to you.
If you are prescribed medication regularly, you can also save money by pre-paying. Once you have bought a pre-payment certificate, this covers all your prescriptions during that period, which can be a real money-saver for people who use more than one prescription per month. You can apply to pre-pay through the NHS directly.
Sometimes you might be prescribed a product or medication that is also available over the counter, so it would be much cheaper to buy them yourself, rather than use your prescription. This is also important because it saves the NHS money too. Last year it was reported that the NHS spent £70 million in a year giving paracetamol to patients, most of whom would have been able to buy it themselves for as little as 19p a packet in many supermarkets.
If your doctor is prescribing you a medicine that you know you will need again, talk to them about giving you a larger prescription. They will often automatically write out a prescription for a small amount but you can often save money by buying in bulk.
This shows that there are ways to save money on your prescriptions and still get the medicine you need.