Martin Lewis has issued a warning over NHS prescription costs as more than one million people could be overpaying.
New data obtained by MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) shows that 1,064,992 people bought at least 12 prescriptions in the past year, but many could have saved on costs.
MSE said that patients would have saved money with a prescription prepayment certificate, also known as a prescription “season ticket”.
The certificate costs £108.10 in total for unlimited prescriptions for a year. It means that anyone who buys 12 or more prescriptions at the current cost of £9.35 over the course of a year will be out of pocket if they don’t have one of these certificates.
The consumer website said over a million people were overpaying by an average of £40 a year by not having a prescription season ticket.
The findings are based on data from a Freedom of Information request to the NHS Business Services Authority to determine how many people would have benefited from the scheme but may have missed out.
‘Season tickets are the cheapest option’
Martin Lewis, founder of MSE, urged people who get more than one prescription each month - including those with chronic conditions - to check the savings they could be making on medication costs with a prepayment certificate.
He said: “England is the only one of the four UK nations that charges for prescriptions, and so it’s frustrating to hear that many people are still paying more than they need to – especially at a time when every penny counts towards bills.
“We need to spread the word to anyone who regularly gets prescriptions, including some with chronic illnesses, to check out prescription prepayment certificates.
“My simple rule of thumb is, if you get more than one prescription a month, on average these ‘season tickets’ are the cheapest option, as they cap what you need to pay. For a one-off payment, you get unlimited prescriptions for either three months or a year.
“So someone getting, say, two prescriptions a month would save over £100 a year. If you think that’s you, check it out now in case we see another price hike at the beginning of spring.”
How to get a prescription ‘season ticket’
Patients can buy a prescription prepayment certificate by card or direct debit on the NHS Business Services Authority website or by calling 0300 330 1341. The certificate can also be purchased in person at many pharmacies, or via the NHS online.
MoneySavingExpert advises that patients check first to see if they qualify for an exemption to avoid paying for prescriptions entirely. You can check if you are entitled to free prescriptions using the NHS online checker.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Approximately 89% of prescription items are dispensed for free in England and we estimate that around 60% of people are not charged for them.
“Prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) are available to help people in England who need frequent prescriptions and who are not exempt from charges. We encourage all those who may be eligible to consider using a PPC to save money on their prescriptions.”