After managing to negotiate the dreaded Doctor’s receptionist and get that golden ticket of a Doctors appointment , you’re now sat in the waiting room just waiting for buzz that will make you jump out of your skin and tell you its your turn to finally get a bit of relief. You cough, say ahhh and tell the Doctor what hurts, he scribbles the magical potions on that little green slip of paper and you know in a matter of days you will be back to the healthy person you where before this unwanted load of germs over took your system.
You clutch in in your hand and scamper to the chemist, filling in the maze of tick boxes and addresses before hearing that it will be £8.60 to feel better, or maybe you’ve been a little unlucky had to pay for a couple of items. Still its a small price to pay to be healthy again, so you hand over the money and wait for that little bag of potions……
Sounds magical doesn’t it?? £8.60 or maybe £17.20 to feel better, to make that sore throat go from feeling like razor blades or that chest infection making you cough non-stop. In fact what would you pay to make sure you felt better? than you could live normally?
Now imagine if you have like me 23 items a month that you had to pay for as standard?? I am really lucky that my GP will prescribe a months worth of medications are once, some will only provide a week at a time. Still £197.80 a month on medicine I need that keeps me alive or allows me to live a “normal” life which doesn’t include any emergency medications I may need, like extra antibiotics or things I ran out of. So with my basic medications costing £2,373.60 a year, you can soon see the price some of us need to pay to feel better or in most cases, just enable us to function.
Believe it or not, I am not alone in these costs, if you live in England you will at some point have to had paid for a prescription, of course there are some exemptions to this and no you can’t just nip to a Boots in Wales to get your prescription filled, but you could get free medicines if you fall into one of the below categories (Or download the attached guide):
- You’re under 16 or over 60.
- You’re in full-time education and 16-18 years old.
- You’re pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months (and have a valid Maternity Exemption certificate).
- You or your partner receive income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment & support allowance, or pension credit guarantee credit.
- You have a war pension exemption certificate.
- You’re an NHS inpatient.
- You have a valid Medical Exemption Certificate (given for a range of illnesses, such as epilepsy or cancer, or severe disability).
Now the bit to pay attention to there is the Medical Exemption Certificate, this means that if you have a qualifying medical condition, you may be entitled to get free prescriptions. These are for life changing or life saving medications and chronic conditions so it covers the following medical conditions are on the list :
- a permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
- a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s Disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
- diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
- diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
- myasthenia gravis
- myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement)
- epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
- a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person
- cancer and are undergoing treatment for either:
– the effects of cancer
– the effects of cancer treatment.
These are the only conditions that entitle you to a medical exemption certificate.
Did you see Asthma??? nope, did you expect to??? I mean without an inhaler most asthmatics would be in hospital every attack, without other medications the attacks could get worse or the condition deteriorate, but as it stands NOPE……. sorry mate, you may not be able to breathe but don’t worry for £8.60 you can buy something that will save your life.
Now whilst I truly feel for those that have to battle the above, it seems very unfair that Asthma does not make the list along with other life changing conditions where we will NEED the medications to have a life. There in fact is a massive movement Prescriptions Charges Coalition (there is a lot of interesting information on the site which you can read at your leisure if you wish), where a group of over 40 organisations are campaigning to end unfair prescription charges for people with long-term medical conditions, this doesn’t only effect asthmatics but people needing treatment for Parkinson’s, Heart Disease, Lupus and the list goes on and on.
The sad fact is that everyday someone has to make a choice, sometimes to not get those medications, stories such as “I could not afford the prescribed medication for anxiety, so thought I’d try and go without, ended up having panic attacks and losing my job” are becoming daily occurrences and although there is some help out there (I will come to this in a bit)
The statistics and stories are worrying and there are things we can do to help make a change to this, you can lobby your MP and download a lobby pack HERE and you can also make sure you keep help highlight the issues with the costs of being Chronically Ill.
Now some helpful bits…..
Somethings on the NHS and on prescription are always free, such as:
• medication given to you to take while you are in hospital or attending an NHS walk-in
• medication administered to you personally by a GP;
• medication to treat a sexually transmissible infection (STI) supplied at an NHS trust or
foundation trust, or by or service arranged by an NHS organisation or a local authority
under the NHS Act 2006, or supplied under a patient group direction;
• medication to treat tuberculosis supplied at an NHS trust or foundation trust, or by a service arranged by an NHS organisation or local authority under the NHS Act 2006, or supplied under a patient group direction;
• medication to treat a mental disorder supplied to a person subject to a supervised
community treatment order, provided by an NHS trust or foundation trust, or a service
arranged by an NHS organisation under the NHS Act 2006 or under a patient group
• prescribed contraceptives.
There is also help for those on low incomes in the way of the The NHS Low Income Scheme, where if you have to pay for your prescription but are on a low income, you may be able to make a claim, you might get help with either part of the costs or the full costs depending on the outcome, this is a means-tested benefit and along with this there is also help for those with Tax Credits also. I recommend giving this Help with Prescription Costs booklet to help see what you could be entitled to on top of any other benefits you are all ready receiving or if you are on a low income.
Now if you don’t fit into any of the above you can still be at a loss into how you are going to afford the costs. This is where a lot of people are not aware of a scheme where you “pre-pay” for your prescriptions, which in reality for anyone that needs anything more than a couple of items a month a massive saving.
You basically pay upfront for all your charges in the way of a set fee, with the costs being:
- £29.10 for 3 months – card payment
- £104 for 12 months – card or Direct Debit (10-monthly installments of £10.40)
Which as you can see is a massive saving, even if you only have 2 items a month, it saves you a few pounds each month, so I highly recommend everyone that has 2 items or more a month gets one.
So to be able to get one of these little cards you need to Click Here and complete the online application and payment.
Hopefully that has helped one or two of you out, those that get free prescriptions know how lucky they are and fight to hold on to them whilst joining in to make the charges fairer across the board for people who need these medications to stay alive. It really shouldn’t have to be down to people to have to pick from heating, to food, to medication.
This is why the blogs you will see this week are so important to help people realize what help there is out there for people to afford to be sick, to allow them to have time out and heal, never mind have the medication the need to allow them to have the live they should.
Please do remember to come and get involved on the FaceBook Group where we will continue the discussions.