The age at which all older people in England qualify for free NHS prescriptions could be raised from 60 to 66, under government plans out for public consultation.
The Department of Health and Social care says the change could bring in £300m more for the NHS from prescription charges paid by people, which would help the health service recover from the pandemic. ‘The challenging economic landscape means we must ensure public sector spending presents good value for taxpayers’ money’, it said.
The changes would align the qualifying age for free prescriptions to the State Pension age, which is currently 66 but will increase to 68 between 2037 and 2039.
There could be a grace period for all people who are aged 60-65 at the time of any change.
No other aspects are being considered by the consultation, such as changing which health conditions qualify you for exemption from charges on any medication, even those not related to your condition. Health campaigners have argued for years that the exclusion of some conditions is unfair.
Who gets free NHS prescriptions?
- all children aged under 16
- 16-18-year-olds in full-time education
- all people aged 60 and over (but this age could go up)
- people on a low income
- people with certain medical conditions
- expectant or new mothers