Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special Part 2
In this second part of the three part Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special, we’ll look at saving money on your healthcare and prescription costs. [ Updated : The cost of prescriptions increased for April 1st 2023+. This post has been updated to reflect the new pricing ]
Three Part Series Special :
- Part 1 – Government Help, Energy Price Cap Explained & Save Money On Your Energy
- Part 2 – Save Money On Your Healthcare & Prescription Costs
- Part 3 – Save On Groceries & Shopping
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Save On Your NHS Healthcare Charges & Prescriptions
The cost of NHS prescriptions for medications and medical products stood at £9.35 per item in England during 202. From 1st April 2023, this went up to £9.65 per item. If you only have the one-off prescription, the cost may be acceptable. However, if you regularly need medication or several types of it, you’re in for a rather large bill. There are a few ways to cut costs and it’s also worth seeing if you’re eligible for free prescriptions.
Save With A Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) – Prescription Medications & Appliances
A Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) is a way potentially save some money if you’re regularly needing NHS prescriptions. If you require more than 3 items in 3 months or more than 11 items in 12 months, a PPC could save you a reasonable amount of money.
From 1st April 2023, the cost of a PPC increased slightly. You can buy a PPC to cover you for 3 months at £31.25 (an increase of £1) or for 12 months at £111.60 (an increase of £3.50). You can buy a PPC online here. Alternatively, you should be able to purchase in store at a registered pharmacy.
Are You Eligible For A Medical Exemption Certificate? – Prescription Medications & Appliances
Not everyone needs for pay for prescriptions as there are a few exceptions. For instance, those with a Medical Exemption Certificate for particular conditions will not have to pay for their prescriptions or appliances, but there are requirements attached. For instance, some diabetics and epileptics are eligible for medical exemption but they must have a particular type of diabetes or require a certain type of treatment for their epilepsy. Other conditions that may be eligible, including individuals with ostomies (a stoma bag), cancer, myasthenia gravis, myxoedema, hypoparathyroidism, diabetes, and hypoadrenalism.
You can find the full list of exemption-eligible conditions on the NHS website here. Only those conditions and their specifications are eligible. If you want to apply or have any queries, you can ask your GP. The GP practice can give you a form to complete, which will then be signed by your doctor. Once this form has been sent off, assuming you’re eligible, you’ll receive a small medical exemption card in the post. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the expiry date as you’ll then need to re-apply for a new card if you still have the eligible condition(s).
Low Income Scheme – Prescription Medications & Appliances, Plus Dental & Optical Care
If you’re on a low income and are in receipt of particular benefits, you may be exempt from certain healthcare charges or be able to apply for further help with costs.
Only some people will be eligible without applying for healthcare costs support. For instance, some people on Universal Credit with income under a certain amount may be eligible for full help with their healthcare costs just by presenting proof of their benefits to the pharmacy, dentist, opticians, etc. Information on healthcare costs when in receipt of UC can be found here.
Other individuals on low incomes may need to complete a HC1 form as part of the Low Income Scheme. You might want to do this online or by filling in a paper form and sending it in the post. For the latter, you’ll find the form on the website to print and complete, or you can visit your local job centre for a pre-printed form. Please note there is a savings cap to be eligible for this scheme.
Depending on your situation and your savings, you may be entitled to partial (HC3 certificate) or full help (HC2 certificate) with healthcare costs. The costs referred to are not just NHS medical prescriptions but also eye sight tests, glasses, wigs, fabric supports, and NHS dental check-ups and treatment.
The NHS site has a quiz you can complete to see if and what help towards healthcare costs you may be able to apply for.
Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme – Travel For Medical Appointments
Travelling to and fro for medical appointments can start to become expensive. If you are referred to a hospital (or other NHS site) for treatment or diagnostic tests – by a doctor, primary care health professional or dentist – you might be able to claim a refund for your travel costs.
To be eligible for the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS), there are 3 conditions you must meet:
- At the time of the appointment you’re travelling to, you (or your partner) must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit/allowance, or be eligible for the Low Income Scheme (as above). Qualifying benefits include the likes of Income Support, Income-based JSA, income-related ESA, WTC, CTC, WTC with disability element, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and Universal Credit if you meet criteria. Full information can be found on the NHS website.
- You need a referral from a professional to a hospital or specialist for treatment or testing.
- The appointment you attend must be on a different day to when the referral was made. Basically, you can’t be referred and attend the appointment the same day, even if it’s at a different hospital/site.
Travel costs can also be claimed if you’re taking your child/children if they have been referred for treatment or testing. You must be eligible benefits as above.
In addition, if your healthcare professional states it to be medically necessary for another person to travel with you, you may in some circumstances be able to claim for the travel costs for them as an escort to your appointment.
This scheme typically refunds on the basis of you using the cheapest mode of transport under the circumstances (taking into consideration the likes of public transport availability, your age or medical condition).
If you travel by car, you’ll be refunded for a set amount of fuel per mile, which is set by the local integrated care board (ICB). You can also claim for “unavoidable car parking and toll charges”.
If you travel by taxi, this usually needs to be agreed in advance in order to be claimed back. Speak to the hospital or ICB prior to travelling.
How To Claim – You’ll need to claim for the costs within 3 months of your appointment. There are two main ways to claim : If the hospital has a Nominated Cashiers’ Office, take in your travel receipts, appointment letter, proof of eligibility (such as qualifying benefit letter) to request the refund. It’s not always obvious where this is, so do ask a member of staff if one is available.
If the hospital doesn’t have a cashier’s office or you’re not able to attend after your appointment, you can fill in an HC5 form. This can be found on the website, where you can print it, fill it in and send it off, along with your relevant documents. I’d personally suggest getting photocopies or photos of the proof and travel expenses before sending them.
You can find more information on the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme on the NHS website, which also includes the HC5 form for download and details on qualifying benefits.
Save On Health & Beauty, Toiletries and Supplements
Buying the basic necessities can add up, but on top of that you’re adding any products required for men and women’s healthcare needs, plus purchasing required items for health conditions like incontinence or digestive troubles or pain, in addition to wellness products like vitamins, minerals, meal replacement shakes and so on. Before you know it, the shopping cart is full and you’re having to sell your kidneys to pay for it all. And that’s just one month’s supply!
Shop around for deals and discounts, then consider stocking up a little if possible while items are on sale. You can visit the websites of particular stores to compare their prices before you shop online or in store.
Use loyalty programs, like the Boots Advantage Card and the Superdrug Beautycard. Both of these have offers exclusively for loyalty card members, from lower thresholds for free home delivery to extra points and discounts.
If you have empties, why not partake in a recycling scheme? Boots offer their Boots Recycle scheme for different health and beauty empties, but changes have been made to how this works in the last year. You need to sign up and scan your products on your phone (through a browser, not an app), and wait for them to be confirmed before taking them to store to put in the recycling box. It’s a bit of a faff and not as rewarding as it was when it first started, but the extra points still add up. You currently get £2.50 worth of points with a £10 spend for submitting 5 empties, so it’s a rewarding scheme if you need to make some purchases anyway.
There’s also the John Lewis BeautyCycle scheme, where MyJohnLewis members can take in 5 beauty empties (including shampoos and shower gels) for £5 off any spend in the beauty section worth £5 or more. If you’re looking to buy something anyway, this is a good time to do it. I’ve previously opted for hand cream masks that are £5, so it’s something for nothing and a handy way to help the environment and save some pennies.