Forum > Welfare Rights

Ending free prescriptions for people over 60

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I remember reading somewhere, I can't remember where and it was a few years ago, that it was more cost effective to give free TV licences to all those of qualifying age rather than means testing it. The administration costs far out weighed any financial benefits.
Perhaps it will be a similar situation with the prescriptions. We all know how well the NHS and DWP like paperwork!

Sunny Clouds:
Costs of handling cuts versus not cutting - an aside on legal costs...

I had a head-shaking moment when I read how one calculation (and I don't have a source for it) concluded that the project to deny certain benefits was costing more in legal costs than it was saving in reduced benefit payments. Well, since I don't have the evidence, and I can't cite which benefit(s), so let's take it not as a fact but as reasoning.

But I mapped it onto something I read from some prominent lawyers (and again I don't have a source for it) that the government's attempt to achieve a win-win for their political views by cutting legal aid had increased court costs in a variety of courts.  This doesn't just affect benefits.  Again, feel free to take it as reasoning not fact.

If a judge or magistrate or tribunal chair is honest (even if not intrinsically, just wishing to maintain reputation by minimising successful appeals against their decisions) and therefore seeks to get all the relevant evidence, an unrepresented applicant or appellant or defendant can take a lot longer to present their case, to give evidence etc. 

Let us say that you don't get your benefit and you appeal to a tribunal.  Let's say that where you live, there's either no free help to be had or very little.  Even in places with a range of free advice services, they may be overwhelmed, and what if you live in a village or small town, are so short of money you can't afford enough food, much less much time online or the bus fare to the nearest big town.

So you turn up at the tribunal, with an imprecise knowledge of the relevant law, no idea what the case precedents say, no idea what the judge is going to ask etc.  You may take literally hours to bombard the court with a range of information, perhaps with a couple of adjournments, that a lawyer or adviser could have done in well under half the time.

Is that extra court time, not just the judge's pay, but the pay of the other staff, cheaper than the saving in the claimant's benefits?

And if an appellant pushes the matter up to appeal, what then of all the administrative costs if a precedent is set?

Hidden costs.

This is an English problem as all prescriptions are free in Scotland,  making them even more means tested is wrong and will lead to an even bigger burden on the NHS as folk will be more unwell by the time they access help.  I looked at the nhs website and this is the information

I know pensioners get more £ than working age people but they are also most likely NOT to claim means tested benefits.  We should be encouraging all of them to claim attendance allowance as it could get them pension credit and then their free tv license  :f_winkeye:

Who can get free prescriptionsYou can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you:
are 60 or over

* are under 16
* are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
* are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
* have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
* have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
* hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
* are an NHS inpatient
* You're also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:
* income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
* income-related Employment and Support Allowance
* Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
* Universal Credit and meet the criteria
* If you're entitled to or named on:a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
* a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
* People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.Read more about who can get free NHS prescriptions.Check you're eligible for free prescriptions There's a simple way to find out if you're eligible for free NHS prescriptions and any help with other NHS costs.  Use the eligibility checker.Free prescriptions for certain medical conditions. People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions.
* Medical exemption certificates are credit-card-size cards. They are issued if you have:cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
* a permanent fistula (for example, a laryngostomy, colostomy, ileostomy or some renal dialysis fistulas) requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
* a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison's disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
* diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
* diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
* hypoparathyroidism
* myasthenia gravis
* myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
* epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
* a continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person (temporary disabilities do not count, even if they last for several months)
* Find out more about medical exemption certificates.How to apply for a medical exemption certificate
* Ask your doctor for an FP92A form to apply for a medical exemption certificate.
* Your GP will sign the form to confirm that your statement is correct. At your GP's discretion, a member of the practice who has access to your medical records can also sign the form.
* Your certificate will be valid from 1 month before the date the NHS Business Services Authority receives the application form.
* If you have a low income, you may be eligible to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.  To apply for an HC2 certificate, complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. You might also be able to get an HC1 form from your doctor, dentist or optician.  You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0300 123 0849.  You qualify for a full help HC2 certificate (which includes free NHS prescriptions) if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or your income is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge.  You qualify for a limited help HC3 certificate if your income is greater than your requirements by more than half the current English prescription charge.  The HC3 certificate shows how much you have to pay towards your health costs. Certificates are usually valid for between 6 months and 5 years, depending on your circumstances.

Sunny Clouds:
Looking at that list reminds me how utterly bonkers it all is.

I have two conditions I take pills for.  The one entitles me to them for free, but the pills only cost a few quid a year anyway, besides which, if I didn't take them, I'd feel rough but nothing dire would happen.  (Pituitary and thyroid aren't on talking terms, just random slanging matches, so the pharmacist acts as a go-between.)

The other doesn't entitle me to free prescriptions.  I've checked NHS prices (the pills not the scrips) and the pills themselves cost the NHS about £120 year (plus the costs involved in repeating the scrips, dispensing etc.)  If I had to pay for scrips for them, it wouldn't cost me a lot, but let's say I was younger, in work, didn't get free scrips, but was on a fairly low income, I might find myself prioritising other things such as food, fuel, rent, sanitary towels, travel costs to work etc. and skipping the pills.  You could say buy a pre-payment certificate, but you have to be able to afford it up-front.

How much does it cost to keep the likes of me in the loony bin for a fortnight if I go mad or seriously crash moodwise?  Around £3,500 a week, plus the costs involved in spotting I've a problem and getting me there.  In all seriousness, depending on who spotted there was a problem, whom they told etc., that could involve anything from police to councillors to social services to - well, whichever public service people thought to phone or knock on the door of.  Then there'd be some follow-up care.  So we're probably talking at least £10,000. 

Hmm.  Somehow I don't find the sums add up right in terms of what it makes sense for the state to fund.  Still, I didn't get a brilliant grade on my A-level maths, so maybe I missed the lessons on "How to do the sums on spending a bit to save a lot."


If you’re exempt for 1 condition you get all your meds free in England, I agree some of the exemptions are stupid after all GP’s don’t prescribe meds if we don’t need them.


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