MoneySavingExpert said people missed out on savings of around £40 due to not having a “season ticket” which could have capped their costs.
An NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) is available to buy for people who pay for more than one prescription per month.
Martin Lewis is urging people with more than one prescription each month, including those with chronic conditions, to check the savings they could be making on medication costs.
How much could people save on prescriptions?
MoneySaving Expert obtained the figures from the NHS Business Services Authority via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
In the year to April 2021, 1,063,648 people paid for at least 12 prescriptions in the 2020/21 financial year, with 16 being purchased on average.
At the time, an annual PPC, which covers the cost of all pharmacy-dispensed medication for one year, cost £106, while a single prescription cost £9.15.
This left patients in England who paid each time overspending by £40 on average over the year, totalling £43 million.
The consumer site has said these season tickets are worth checking now as prescription and PPC prices tend to rise each April, although the costs for the 2022/23 financial year have not been announced yet.
In April 2021, prescription costs rose to £9.35 and annual PPC costs rose to £108.10. Alternatively, a three-month season ticket costs £30.25, which could save someone money if they buy four or more prescriptions during that time.
The number of people who could have saved money by buying an annual PPC has risen steadily for each of the past six years, and 2021 marked the third year running that more than one million patients could have saved using one, MoneySavingExpert said.
Mr Lewis 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.
“We need to spread the word to anyone who regularly gets prescriptions – including some with chronic illnesses – to check out prepayment certificates.
“These season tickets cap what you need to pay, as for a one-off payment, you get unlimited prescriptions for either three months or a year.
“My simple rule of thumb is if you get more than one prescription a month on average – these are the cheapest way. And someone getting, say, two prescriptions a month would save over £100 a year.”
How can I get a PPC?
Patients can buy a PPC by card or direct debit on the NHS Business Services Authority website or by calling 0300 330 1341.
A PPC can also be purchased in person at many pharmacies, or via the NHS online.
MoneySavingExpert said patients should always check first if they qualify for an exemption to avoid paying 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 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.”
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