Behind the Cost of NHS Prescriptions

Access to treatment

Prescriptions in the UK have always come at a price. That is, unless you fit into one of only a few specific exemption categories; you are under 16, for example, or are in receipt of income related benefits. Some locations in the UK also offer free prescriptions as standard, however England is not one of these.

Each prescribed item costs £7.85 – this is a 20p increase on the previous charge of £7.65, which came into force on the 1st of April, 2013. Individuals also have the option of purchasing a pre-payment certificate (PPC) which entitles you to free prescriptions for either 3 months or a year.

Worries About Rising Prescription Costs

Because of the nature and structure of prescription payments in the UK, most people will have access to the medicines they need. However many people don’t understand where their prescription payments go; how they are used, or why they are levied. And many have expressed concerned about rising prescription costs, with the worry that those people suffering from long term health problems may find that increased costs impact their both their health and lifestyle. Organisation such as the British Heart Foundation are therefore committed to campaigning for free prescriptions for all individuals in the UK who have long term health needs – something which was promised by the Labour government back in 2008.

A Free Health Service For All

When it was founded in 1948, the NHS was meant to ensure that everyone in the UK received free health care, however the first prescription charges were levied not much later, in 1952. Charges rose for the first time under the Thatcher government, which doubled the cost from 20p to 45p, and they’ve continued to rise every year since then, except in 1997 when Labour reduced them by 10p.

The exemption system has been heavily criticised since inception, particularly because it fails to consider all individual circumstances. For example; well-off pensioners are exempt, whilst poor working families are not. In addition, the actual costs of administering prescription charges is actually so high that some believe it would be financially prudent to simply do away with charges altogether.

What Are the Alternatives to Prescriptions?

There are alternatives available for those people who do not, or cannot, pay for costly prescription charges. These usually take the form of alternative supplements like Indigo Herbs. Many alternative supplements have been shown to be both effective and cost effective, although it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before using alternative treatments to treat persistent or life threatening health problems. The costs of alternative treatments vary, but many can be bought in bulk, thereby significantly reducing their cost.