Friday, 13th July, 2018

Free NHS prescriptions: do I qualify?

Although NHS prescriptions cost £8.80 per item, the vast majority of prescriptions are issued free of charge. Read on to find out if you qualify for free prescriptions on the NHS.

The ABC of free prescriptions

There are three categories of exemption for NHS prescriptions:

  • Age
  • Benefits
  • Certificates & Contraception

Let's take a look at what these categories mean for you and your prescription.



If you are aged 60 or over you are automatically exempt. Make sure you add this to the Echo app so that you won't be charged for prescription fees. 

There are two other age groups that are exempt: children under 16, and students aged 16 to 18 who are still in full-time education.

It's as simple as that.



People who receive certain state benefits are eligible to receive their prescriptions for free. Qualifying benefits include:

  • Income Support;
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, paid on its own or in combination with contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance paid on its own or with contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) paid on its own or with Pension Credit (Savings Credit);
  • Child Tax CreditWorking Tax Credit including a disability element or Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit paid together. Your family income must also be £15,276 or less. You will normally be sent an NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate.

For proof of your exemption you can use an entitlement letter or award notice from either the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, Jobcentre Plus, or Pension Service.



Pregnant women can apply for a maternity exemption certificate from their GP, midwife, or health visitor.

Women who are currently pregnant can apply for a maternity exemption certificate from their GP, midwife, or health visitor. The certificate is valid for 12 months after giving birth.

Medical exemption certificates (EC92A) are available for certain people with a defined list of long-term conditions including an underactive thyroiddiabetes, and epilepsySee the full list of conditions here. Not all conditions are covered so please contact us or your GP to find out if you’re eligible.

The HC2 Certificate (NHS Low Income Scheme) allows free prescriptions for many people on a low income and with assets, savings, and investments worth less than £16,000 (£23,250 for people who permanently live in a care home). This is suitable for students who are aged 19 or older. You need to fill out an HC1 form, which you can order here.

Pre-payment certificates (PPC) are a way of capping the amount of money you spend on NHS prescriptions if you are ineligible for free prescriptions. A PPC will cost you £29.10 for three months or £104 for a full year. If you receive more than three prescribed medicines in three months or twelve prescriptions in twelve months, you’ll save money. Apply here.

war pension exemption certificate is only valid for prescriptions related to your accepted disability. Other non-related medicines still need to be paid for.


There is no NHS prescription fee for contraception such as coils (IUDs) or ‘the pill’.

How do exemptions work with Echo?

When you signup to Echo, you can upload the evidence of your exemption to ensure you don't have to pay for your prescriptions. How's how:

1) Tell us whether you pay for your prescriptions or not


2) Select the reason for your exemption


3) Upload the evidence for your exemption


If you have any questions about prescription charges or exemption status please get in touch by emailing Scroll down to download the app.

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