Expert warns free prescriptions for over-60’s will be ‘axed’

Expert warns free prescriptions for over-60’s will be ‘axed’

An expert has warned that controversial new plans may see people aged 60-plus having to pay for NHS prescriptions from April 1.

The current £9.35 cost of a prescription could also be increased.

According to the Daily Express, the move to axe free prescriptions is causing confusion over who may or may not still be eligible for waived charges.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown shared that the next few months will see a blizzard of tax and price hikes, as income tax bills, National Insurance charges, energy prices, council tax demands and rail fares all get more punitive.

The NHS prescription charge reforms would come on top of all these, she said.

Last year, the Government announced plans to lift the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England from 60 to age 66, bringing them into line with State Pension age.

It said many people aged from 60 to 65 remain in employment and can therefore afford to meet the cost.

Ms Coles believes the reform is likely to come into force on April 1, the same day that prescription charges typically increase.

“At the moment there’s no charge for over-60s but that could soon change. If it does, it would drag millions of people into having to pay for essential medicines.”

On April 1 last year, the prescription charge increased by 20p, from £9.15 to £9.35, a rise of 2.1 per cent in line with inflation.

At the time, the Prescription Charges Coalition dubbed the increase as a “tax on health” and warned some patients are being forced to choose between everyday essentials like food and their medicine. It said on its current trajectory the charge could hit £10.15 by 2025.

Ms Coles said the Government has yet to confirm if prescription charges will rise but warned: “2022 is a year of change, but not in a good way. Most of the financial developments in the pipeline will leave us worse off.”

According to a report by Chemist4U the cost of prescriptions has risen by 26.4 per cent, an increase of £1.95 per item, over the last ten years.

Those with serious conditions can bug a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which costs £108.10 for a year of “free” prescriptions.

The Government’s consultation on the changes closed on September 3 and the Department of Health and Social Care has said it will respond “in due course.”

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Ellie joined Gi Media in July 2021.