One of the best aspects of UK life has to be the National Health Service (NHS). Through the NHS, most medical care for UK residents is free, but for those living in England or receiving private healthcare, prescription medication has some cost. Here are five tips you can use to reduce your medication costs.
Check to see if you are eligible for free prescriptions
While NHS medication is free in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, every prescribed item by the NHS attracts a flat fee of £9 within England. This is to ensure that medication can be available to all who need it. However, under some special circumstances, you might qualify for free medication from NHS pharmacies. You are eligible for free prescriptions when:
You are a child (16 years old or younger) or if you are elderly (60 years old and above).
You are aged between 16 and 18 and are enrolled in school on a full-time basis.
If you have an unexpired medical exemption certificate usually given to people suffering from chronic illnesses and some forms of disability
If you have a maternity exemption certificate and are still pregnant or it is 12 months since your due date
If you, or your partner, receive certain forms of social assistance such as income support and pension credit guarantee credit
If you are receiving NHS in-patient care
Check the NHS website for a more comprehensive list of qualification criteria for free medication.
Get a prepayment certificate
A prepayment certificate allows you to get medication without any additional payment as long as it is valid. It is an ideal tool to have if you require prescription medication on a long-term basis. A three-month prepayment certificate costs £29.10, while a one-year prepayment certificate costs £104. If you do the math (with each individual prescription costing £9) and find that you can save your medication expenditure by having a prepayment certificate, then you can apply for one on the NHS prescriptions website.
Buy from an online pharmacy
If you are receiving private healthcare, or have a prescription for medication not covered by the NHS, then consider buying from online pharmacies. Online pharmacies are generally more affordable due to their reduced operating costs. You also get to compare prices more effectively to find the cheapest options. Apart from reduced prices, you save a lot in terms of transport costs, and the convenience offered by online shopping is unmatched. Check with the Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s online registry to confirm that the online pharmacy you are buying from is registered.
Find alternative medication
In some special cases, you might find alternative over the counter medication that is cheaper than the £9 NHS flat rate. Shop around to see if this is the case when you are prescribed medication. When using private (non-NHS) healthcare, note that some medication is expensive simply due to having a recognized brand name. You can find identical medication that is much cheaper, usually from pharmacy brands. Check to see if there are cheaper alternatives sharing the same PL number, which indicates identical medication. If working with a tighter budget, you can also opt for generic versions of the prescribed medication which share the same active ingredient (as confirmed by the European Medicines Agency) while being much more affordable.
Cast a wider net when searching for medication
For most UK residents, the only source of medication is high-street pharmacies. You can save significantly on your medication cost by checking out discount stores and supermarkets, which are increasingly stocking most popular medicines. In many cases, you will find the same products at much lower prices.
Despite the UK’s healthcare system being very structured, there are still numerous ways to go about reducing your medication costs. This is especially important when using private healthcare or purchasing medication not covered by the NHS. With the tips mentioned above, you can make serious savings when buying medication.