Home Frugal Finds Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special : Part 2 of 3

Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special : Part 2 of 3

by InvisiblyMe

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 : 

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.

A white piggybank next to a stethoscope and a small pile of money in coins.

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. You need a referral from a professional to a hospital or specialist for treatment or testing. 
  3. 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! 

A bird's eye view of numerous bottles, sprays and pots against a light blue background to suggest beauty products and toiletries.

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. 

A yellow background with a white piggybank that has been smashed in half, money spilling out between the two broken parts. Above is the post title: Cost of living crisis UK special, part 2 of 3.
A black scroll divider.

Caz  ♥

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Annimalcouriers October 17, 2022 - 4:09 pm

As usual, some very good advice!

Sandee October 17, 2022 - 5:45 pm

Cost of living is going through the roof around the globe. When you can save on things you need then that’s a good thing.

Have a fabulous day and week, Caz. ♥

InvisiblyMe October 18, 2022 - 5:51 pm

A very good thing indeed. I hope you & hubby have a lovely week 🌻 xx

Kymber Hawke October 17, 2022 - 9:47 pm

Thank you for such a thorough post, Caz. xoxo This inspires me to look for this type of help where I live.

InvisiblyMe October 18, 2022 - 11:01 pm

I’m glad you like it, Kymber. I hope there is some local help you can get or some ways you can save on necessities and healthcare.xx

Despite Pain October 18, 2022 - 12:17 pm

Another fantastic post, Caz. If I didn’t live in Scotland, I would definitely have to buy the annual prepayment card. It makes such a huge saving. Prescriptions cost so much in England. It’s terrible if people feel they can’t afford medication so this post will be so helpful.

I had never heard of the Boots recycling scheme. It’s definitely worth shopping around for good deals for toiletries and supplements. There are often great deals if you’re able buy extra – 3 for 2 deals etc but you really do need to shop around. A lot of online stores sell products much cheaper than shops too and many with free postage.

Well done, Caz. Such a helpful post for people. We need all the help we can get right now.

InvisiblyMe October 18, 2022 - 11:15 pm

Thanks, Liz, I’m glad you like the post! I’m very glad you have free prescriptions in Scotland, that’s the way it should be. It’s a disgrace it’s not done here. Instead of helping people, our government appear to be doing all they can to waste as much taxpayer cash as possible, and then scheme to claw back all the money they’ve wasted. There’s not one ounce of common sense between them all. Apparently, instead of lowering the eye-watering costs of parking at hospitals, they want to ensure everyone is paying and no longer give free or discounted parking to certain groups like the disabled with Blue Badges. Sickening, isn’t it? Healthcare in general is getting increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible for many reasons.

The Boots scheme is certainly better than nothing, it’s just a shame they’ve changed it so much. You’re absolutely right about the need to shop around. I’m loathe to buy many things unless they’re on offer now, too. Shopping around and stocking up can save a small fortune. The problem is if you have a small home like we have, you run out of space pretty quickly 😆

Despite Pain October 19, 2022 - 9:26 am

It might sound like I am on a recruitment drive for people to live in Scotland sometimes – we also have free hospital parking. They abolished charging for prescriptions in 2011, I’m sure they worked out that it was actually cheaper doing that than the administration costs for charging and working out who could and who couldn’t get free prescriptions. Our NHS isn’t perfect either though. We have long waiting lists too especially since the pandemic.

InvisiblyMe October 24, 2022 - 11:06 pm

If you were recruiting, you’ve already sold me. Scotland here I come! 😆 I would love to visit Scotland one day. Labour have said for a while now about wanting to make parking in hospitals free. Meanwhile, the latest iteration of the government have said they’re considering abolishing discounted parking (for parents of sick kids in hospital for an extended period of time and blue badge disabled parking), so that everyone pays full price. These idiots are going backwards and making things so, so much worse! The waiting lists are deadly, and I’m sorry that’s such a problem in Scotland, too. I’ve never understood why they don’t look at making the process for training and working in the NHS as a nurse/surgeon/doctor more convenient, ie. less rotations and making people move around the country, more flexibility in working while training, less costs involved to put students into debt. The salary (if you consider the average £30k for a nurse) is okay, but if the training and work life were improved, perhaps more people could train in a practical sense and more people would find the idea of working in healthcare appealing. xx

Blanca October 18, 2022 - 7:14 pm

Thank you so much for this useful and thorough post, Caz. All these tips are very useful in these days where the cost of living has become a major problem .

InvisiblyMe October 24, 2022 - 11:09 pm

I’m really glad you like the post – thank you very much, Blanca. I do hope it might be able to help someone, even a little bit 💜 xx

Ellie Thompson October 18, 2022 - 8:23 pm

Thanks for sharing such a useful and comprehensive post, Caz, especially with the cost of living having increased dramatically this year. I’m fortunate to get free prescriptions now, as I’m over sixty. Just as well as I have to take thirteen different medications every day, not including painkillers, inhalers and nasal sprays etc. I have to pay for dental treatment and glasses, like most others. I feel so much for people who have to pay full price for their prescriptions as these are always essential needs and not luxuries. My friend has to pay for her medication as she’s younger than me and not on any benefits. I’ll make sure I tell her about the prepaid prescription cards. Thanks for the tips about returning empty toiletries containers to Boots or John Lewis. I usually take my Bodyshop empties back to their store so they can recycle them, but it would be good to get some money off my next purchases as well as to know they were being recycled. This information is so helpful to so many people, Caz. It’s great that you put all these facts together. You’re always so good at doing these posts. How are you keeping at the moment? Hope you are reasonably well, or as well as you can be. Love Ellie Xxx 💜💐💛

InvisiblyMe October 26, 2022 - 1:48 pm

Thanks, Ellie, I’m really glad you like the post. I’m glad you get free prescriptions now. My mum is 74 and now very glad for it too because after her heart attack she has a similar number of meds to take as you! The cost of prescriptions is ludicrous, but then again maybe we’re lucky if we can get them prescribed in the first place with so many GPs getting gold stars for taking patients off the meds they need. I hope your friend may be able to benefit from the prepaid prescription certificate. If she has various items regularly, it could save quite a bit.

I’m sorry I’ve been a bit quiet and very behind lately. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on at home, and now with medical stuff as I’ve had a date for surgery. Everything seems to happen at once, doesn’t it? How’re you keeping? I hope you’re doing as well as possible. Hang in there my friend 💜 xxxx

Belladonna October 18, 2022 - 9:16 pm

Can this is a great post! I just started back couponing so I can stop up one all the things I need. It’s so ridiculous how much things hake gone up. You definitely gave great suggestions!

InvisiblyMe October 26, 2022 - 1:50 pm

Couponing is fab, I just wish there were more coupons these days! There seems to be less & less in the UK, and they’re all online so you if you do manage to find anything you have to print it. I hope you can find some decent ones to stock up on what you need and save a little money. I swear some places are just taking advantage of the situation with indefensible price hikes. It’s sickening because we’ve very little choice when it comes to food and other essentials. I’m glad you like the post! 🤗 x

Belladonna October 26, 2022 - 8:28 pm

I was going to say the same thing about having to print out my coupons. It seems like coupons went down the drain in 2019.

The Oceanside Animals October 19, 2022 - 3:22 am

Charlee: “More great resources! On the prescriptions, it’s funny, our Mama and Dada have human insurance but they still have one of those prescription card things from the local pharmacy because it makes the medicine so much cheaper, it’s not worth going through their own insurance. So strange.”
Chaplin: “There’s no accounting for what humans do, Charlee. You know that.”

InvisiblyMe October 26, 2022 - 3:52 pm

It’s strange the insurance works out more expensive than getting a prescription card. Your mama & dada are smart! (Being strange and smart aren’t mutually exclusive 😉)

annieasksyou October 20, 2022 - 1:46 pm

So valuable, Caz!!
Annie xxxx

InvisiblyMe October 26, 2022 - 11:21 pm

Thanks, Annie – I really do hope it might be able to help someone, even just a little. I hope your week is going well so far! 🌻 x

DutchIl October 22, 2022 - 3:01 pm

Thank you for sharing ideas and ways of helping!!.. it gives many folks hope.. “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” (Frederick Buechner).. 🙂

Until we meet again..
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
(Irish Saying)

InvisiblyMe October 27, 2022 - 3:57 pm

Beautiful, thank you my friend! I really do hope it may help someone and it’d be awesome if it could bring a little hope for getting through these difficult times 🙏 I hope the week is treating you well so far! x

Jordanne || Ofaglasgowgirl October 23, 2022 - 8:05 pm

This cost of living crisis is getting way out of hand! It’s awful that so many cuts are being made and the cost of living is going through the roof. I feel very blessed to live in Scotland and have as many benefits such as free prescriptions as I do as a result where many people haven’t. There’s are such great ways to help those who need, such a fantastic post.

InvisiblyMe October 27, 2022 - 4:06 pm

It really is getting out of hand, isn’t it? I keep wondering whether prices will ever go back down, or if this is it now and it’ll only get worse from here. I’m glad you’re in Scotland and I hope free prescriptions and such remain. The state of things is so backwards, with such a lack of common sense, that it’s hard not to be hugely angry with it all. I’m glad you like the post – thank you for reading & commenting! 🌷 x

Charlotte October 24, 2022 - 9:26 am

A really informative post Caz, thanks very much for sharing – I too spend an eye watering amount on meds & supplements! I agree, Boots Advantage card I’ve found is one of the best loyalty schemes & I really like Together products (no nasties or artificial additives), if you buy direct you can collect points for money off future orders. Thanks again for a great post 🙂 x

InvisiblyMe October 27, 2022 - 4:14 pm

I’m sorry your bill for meds and supplements is also sky-high. It really does add up, doesn’t it? Boots has become pretty good, especially in recent times. I think the change of ownership for once seemed to work for the better. The Together products sound good and it’s always nice to collect points and use them for some pennies off future purchases. It’s a good habit to get into when you use loyalty schemes, and certainly better than nothing! Thanks for your comment lovely, I’m really glad you like the post. I hope you’re keeping as well as possible 🌸 xx

Cactus Catz October 25, 2022 - 4:31 am

It’s very difficult with prices jumping up so much in a short period. Some things we share across the seas — in America, we save through loyalty cards too.

InvisiblyMe October 27, 2022 - 4:43 pm

It’s becoming eye-watering with these price rises, isn’t it? I’m sorry things are so difficult over there for you guys, too. Loyalty cards are a great habit to get into though. At least something is better than nothing, but let’s hope things change before too long because it’ll be a nightmare if prices continue to simply keep rising. x

Priti November 2, 2022 - 5:30 am



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