Free prescriptions and eye tests.
Not everything is free on the NHS
Unlike in many countries, lots of UK residents are entitled to free healthcare provided by the National Health Service (NHS). However, even the over-60s will probably have to pay for certain things like designer rims for your free prescription glasses and, depending on your income, you may have to pay for certain treatments yourself too.
Free sight tests
As well as those aged over sixty, many people in receipt of state benefits such as Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance could be entitled to a free sight test (provided by the NHS), plus be eligible to receive optical vouchers to help pay for contact lenses and glasses. However; each case is based on its own merit. If you don't receive benefits, you need to be eligible. In either case, you'll need an exemption certificate, for which you'll undergo assessment. in addition, all children under 16 qualify (regardless of their parent's income); as do young adults in full-time education who are under 19. Over 60s may need to present proof of age to the optician!
People with ongoing illnesses may also be eligible for free sight tests. Generally, this includes diabetics, people with glaucoma (including relatives over 40 who are at risk), and anyone with specialist complex needs.
Free NHS prescriptions
The criteria around free NHS prescriptions differs from one region to another. In England, people suffering from certain cancers; the over-60s; women who are pregnant, or have given birth during the last 12 months; under-16s and under-19s in full time education; people with long-term disabilities; war pensioners are entitled to free prescriptions; in Scotland everyone get them for nothing. In Northern Ireland GP prescriptions are free. Again, those on a low income or on certain allowances can apply for exemption from charges. To see a more comprehensive list of eligibility criteria for both sight tests and free prescriptions, visit www.nhsba.nhs.uk
Private prescriptions for all patients fall outside The NHS system and each item has to be paid for separately at that item's retail cost.
How to apply
To benefit from free NHS prescriptions and sight tests under the low income scheme, you must make an application and be assessed. Applicants will need to provide proof of income; any social security awards such as housing and council tax benefits will be used for calculations. Successful claimants will receive an HC1 Exemption Certificate
. Please note, if your household income is too high to qualify for state benefits, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't qualify for an HC1 certificate so if in doubt it's always worth applying. To order yours, visit the NHS website https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme
, where you'll find the best way to apply, based on your location.
Other ways to save money
Those who are not eligible for free prescriptions can buy Prescription Prepayment Certificates (PPCs) which entitle them to get their prescriptions at no further expense for a certain length of time. These currently cost £29.10 for three months or £104 for 12 months; with a single prescription item priced at £8.60 this could represent a considerable saving for those who need regular medication or appliances.
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