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Over 60s face paying for prescriptions in NHS change – who is still eligible?

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The state pension age could be made the same as the upper age for free NHS prescriptions, the government has stated.

The government stated in a new proposal that the state pension age could be made the same as the upper age for free NHS prescriptions, which will change entitlements.

At the moment, people who are aged 60 and over are one of the groups that can receive free prescriptions. This is particularly helpful for those in retirement who do not have a stable source of income.

The Government has revealed that in England through 2018, nearly 90 per cent of prescriptions dispensed were free and this was due to the patient being 60 or over.

However, in 2019, around £600 million was generated from prescription charges and this supported “direct delivery of NHS services”.

While the exemption age for prescriptions used to be 65 and over, this was changed to women aged 60 in 1974 and to men aged 60 in 1995.

However, a new proposal seeks to change this so that it aligns with the state pension age. With the pension age rising, this could mean Brits may have to wait even longer to be eligible for the entitlement.

There has been some backlash over the new proposal, with some older people disagreeing with the idea of having to pay for the cost of their prescription medication.

Some experts have also disagreed with the change. Thorrun Govind, Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board Chair, said: “The proposal to raise the age at which people can access free prescriptions from 60 to 66 means that many more people will be affected by this tax on the sick at exactly the time at which they may be needing more medicines.

“It is unacceptable to raise the cost of prescriptions in the current economic situation when many have been disadvantaged by the pandemic. Such proposals will only further drive the health inequalities that have been highlighted by COVID-19. RPS would like to see the complete abolishment of prescription charges in England, whatever the age group, as is the case in Scotland and Wales.”

Even if this does go ahead, there may still be some groups who can receive their entitlement, these include:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

Thankfully, the NHS has a free official eligibility checker which is available online here.


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Laura Kemp

Laura is from a small seaside town in North Wales and has also lived in Liverpool and Manchester, where she studied English Literature and worked in social media and marketing. Laura moved to the city of Zaragoza last August to teach English, but after missing the coast she decided to move to beautiful Nerja to enjoy the sun and sea. Laura has a passion for animals, films, outdoor activities, writing and the environment.

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