NHS patients who become exempt from paying or are admitted into hospital could claim back part of or all of the cost of a prescription "season ticket" known as a pre-payment certificate (PPC) – and we reveal how.
PPCs cover the cost of all your NHS prescriptions at a set price for a three-month period, priced at £29.10, or for 12 months, costing £104.
Prescriptions currently cost £8.80 each in England – remaining free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – so you could save money with a PPC if you regularly pay for them.
But not many people know that if your circumstances change and you become entitled to free prescriptions, you could claim all or some of the money back.
For example, you don't have to pay for prescriptions if you're under 16, under 18 and in full-time education, over 60, pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months, have a medical exemption certificate, or have a war pension exemption certificate.
You could also be entitled to free prescriptions if you have a low income or are on benefits – but there are terms and conditions so it's best to check on the NHS website first.
Meanwhile, the estate holders of people with PPCs who die, as well as those who are admitted into hospital and stay there after their PPC runs out, could also get a full or partial refund.
The number of people who successfully claimed a refund for their PPC shot up by around 20,000 in 2017-2018 to 47,923 from 27,438 in 2016-2017 – as revealed in a Freedom of Information request by MoneySavingExpert.com.
The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which runs prescription services, says that's because more people pre-paid for their prescriptions last year – a total of 2.1million compared to 2million in 2016-2017.
That leaves just over 2.05million people who could be entitled to a refund without knowing it.
How do I claim a refund?
To claim a refund, you need to contact the NHSBSA.
You can ring on 0300 330 1341 but the NHSBSA told The Sun that the best way to contact it is by email at [email protected] or by post at NHS Business Services Authority, PPC Issue Office, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.
You may be asked to return the original certificate – so it may be worth making copies of it if this is necessary.
You need to say why you are claiming the refund and provide evidence of why you don't need to pay for prescriptions anymore (either a certificate number or a copy of all pages of a benefit letter).
There are time limits to claim PPC refunds, so act quickly to make sure you can get back as much of your money as possible.
- If the PPC holder dies, their estate must be claimed within 24 months.
- If you go into hospital and stay there until the PPC runs out, you have to claim for a refund within three months of the certificate expiring.
- If you become entitled to free prescriptions, you must claim for a refund within three months of the date on your exemption certificate or the first time you were awarded a qualifying benefit.
Meanwhile, 150,000 rejected PPI victims could be given compensation after all.
At the supermarket, it's always a good idea to check your receipts in case there's been a scamming blunder as you can often get free cash back on top of what you're owed.
Watch out for fake council tax refund emails going around at the moment as they could con you into handing over your bank details.
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