Government confirms whether prescription drug prices will rise next month and who will have to pay for them

Prescription prices are standardized at £9.35 per item, but last April charges rose by 20p and many people fear the price of drugs will rise again this year, adding another price hike to the cost of living crisis. The good news is that the government has confirmed that dispensing fees will remain the same this year.

However, the number of people exempted from paying the fee could decrease. The dispensing fee waiver currently covers people with low incomes, people with certain medical conditions, people who are pregnant, people under 16, teenagers aged 16-18 pursuing full-time studies, and people aged 60 and over.

New government proposals would raise the age for free prescriptions to 66, in line with the increase in the state retirement age. The move could force around 2.4 million Britons to pay prescription fees.

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Prescription prices rose by 20p last April

Two proposals are being considered – one where the change would take effect immediately and people aged 60 to 66 will have to pay for their prescriptions again, and another where people already over 60 who benefit from prescriptions free will continue to be exempt.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: ‘We are regularly contacted by older people asking what is happening with the changes, as they are so worried about having to pay for their prescriptions with little warning.

More than 46,000 people have signed a petition to keep prescriptions free for those over 60.

In a press release, the Ministry of Health and Social Action replied: “To date, no decision has yet been taken on the consultation. » The Secretary of State for Health and Social Action [Sajid Javid] is carefully reviewing the results and an announcement outlining the government’s response and course of action will be made in due course.

“The government is keen to underline its commitment to keeping the NHS sustainable while protecting the most vulnerable. Around 89% of prescription items are dispensed free of charge and extensive provisions are in place to help those who need it most.”

He continued: “An estimated 34% of 60-65 year olds would be exempt from prescription fees if the upper age limit for free prescriptions were raised in line with the state retirement age. Prescription fees generate revenue for the NHS of around £600million a year, which is spent on essential running costs of frontline services.

“Currently people are given free prescriptions when they reach the age of 60 in England. This has not changed since 1974 for women and 1995 for men. State pension age in England is currently 66 and is expected to increase further for both men and women at 68. In 2019/20, around 60% of people aged 60-65 were still economically active and potentially able to meet the cost of their prescriptions.

“As growing numbers of people are living longer, more and more people are asking for free prescriptions. It is predicted that by 2066 there will be a projected 8.6 million additional UK residents aged 65 and over. more, which will represent 26% of the total population.”

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