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Free or low-cost prescriptions

Free or low-cost prescriptions are available for patients in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but unfortunately prescriptions are not free for patients in England.

The cost of a prescription is £9.35 per item (March 2020). However, there are exemptions for certain people in England who can access free or low-cost prescriptions for medication if they fit certain criteria such as:

  • you are aged 60 or over
  • you are under 16
  • you are aged 16, 17 or 18 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 (MatEx)
  • you have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx) Hypothyroidism is on the list of specified medical conditions but hyperthyroidism is not.
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • you are an NHS in-patient
  • you hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • you or your partner – including civil partner – receive or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving the following:
    • Income Support (IS)
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA-IB)
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA-IR)
    • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
    • Universal Credit and meet the criteria
  • you are entitled to or you are named on, a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate – if you don’t have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both) and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • you are entitled to or you are named on a valid NHS Low Income Scheme certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).  People named on an NHS Low Income Scheme certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

If you are not entitled to an exemption, you can purchase a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) which could save you money on your prescriptions.

Read more about who can get free or low-cost NHS England prescriptions or use the eligibility checker.

Date updated: 06/02/23 (V1.3)
Review date: 11/05/23

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