What help can you get to pay for your prescriptions?

The cost-of-living crisis is putting many people under financial strain, and prescription costs are more than some people can afford to pay. Find out what help is available to help you cover the cost of your medication.
Woman being served in a pharmacy

Most adults in England have to pay for their prescriptions. Some items are always free, such as contraceptives; however, most incur a charge. The current cost is £9.65 per item.

Who can get a free NHS prescription?

You are eligible for a free prescription if you meet any of the following criteria when the prescription is dispensed:

  • You are 60 or over.
  • You are under 16 years old.
  • You are between 16 and 18 years old and in full-time education.
  • You are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate.
  • You have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and you have a valid medical exemption certificate.
  • You hold a valid war pension exemption certificate, and the prescription is for your disability.
  • You are an NHS inpatient.

If you or your partner receive the following benefits, you are entitled to a free prescription.

If you are under the age of 20 and a dependent of someone on these benefits, that also entitles you to a free prescription.

Free prescriptions for specific medical conditions

People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions by applying for a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx).

Check out the NHS advice for a complete list of conditions and details on how to apply.

Free prescriptions if you have a low income

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible to receive financial help towards your prescription. The NHS have a low-income scheme to help people.

The scheme covers:

  • Prescription costs.
  • Dental costs.
  • Eye care costs.
  • Healthcare travel costs.
  • Wigs and fabric support.

You can apply for the scheme if your savings, investments or property (not including where you live) stay within the capital limit.

If you live in a care home, the capital limit is £23,250. For everyone else, it is £16,000.

Visit the NHS website to find out how to apply for the low-income scheme and to claim money back that you have already paid.

NHS low-income scheme

Check to see if you are eligible for help

The Government have an online survey – it only takes five minutes to complete but will let you know whether you can get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.

Take the survey

Prescription prepayment certificates

If you get multiple medications and are not eligible for help, you can save money through a prepayment certificate. 

A prepayment certificate is where you pay a fee upfront, and all your NHS prescriptions (including dental prescriptions) are covered, no matter how many you need.

Costs for a prepayment certificate are worked out on the duration of the certificate:

  • Three months - £31.25, saving you money if you get more than three prescriptions in three months.
  • Twelve months - £111.60, saving you money if you get more than 11 prescriptions yearly. 
  • A hormone replacement therapy certificate costs £19.30 and lasts 12 months, saving you money if you get more than two prescriptions yearly.

You can learn more about prepayment certificates and how to apply on the NHS website.

Visit NHS website

More information and advice

For more information and support paying for your prescriptions, check out the following resources: