How to save money on prescriptions

Here’s everything you need to know about the prescription prepayment certificate

We’ve seen a lot of household bills rise significantly in recent months, and the price of a prescription is also going up. It’s increasing by 25p to £9.90 on 1 May.

But there’s a handy way to save money on getting your regular prescriptions if you get as little as one every month, thanks to a “season ticket” for meds. Here’s what you need to know about the rise in price and how the subcription works.

Which charges are going up?

The price of a prescription is rising, as well as the cost of getting a prescription prepayment certificate, both three-monthly and annually. These are all rising by 2.6%, which is lower than the latest inflation figures.

This is only in England as the rest of the UK gets free prescriptions.

ItemCurrent costCost from 1 MayChange
Single prescription£9.65£9.90+£0.25
3 month prepayment certificate£31.25£32.05+£0.80
12 month prepayment certificate£111.60£114.50+£2.90
HRT prepayment certificate£19.30£19.80+£0.50

Could you beat the increases?

If you’re just getting the odd prescription, you can’t really beat the increase, unfortunately. But if you get regular prescriptions – we’re talking as little as one each month, then you can save a fair amount of money with a prepayment certificate. 

You can get ahead of the price rises by getting a prepayment certificate before 1 May 2024. Any that you buy after 1 May will cost you the higher price. 

What is a prescription prepayment certificate?

Prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) are essentially prescription season tickets, which let you get all-you-can-use prescriptions for the period — either three months or a year. 

They cost less than the price of a prescription per month, so they can save you £4.30 per year if you get one prescription each, or £123.10 if you get two, based on the annual cost.  

As a long-term eczema sufferer with three-four dermatology prescriptions each month, I’m saving £360.70 per year with a prescription prepayment certificate, and that’s not including any one-off illnesses or conditions.

How much could you save with a prescription prepayment certificate?

Number of prescriptions (per month)1-year PPC savings (annual)3-month PPC savings (per 3 months)
1£4.30 Not a saving — £2.35 more

How to use a prescription prepayment certificate

When you sign up for a PPC, you’re sent an email with your PPC number and details of when it expires — you used to receive a physical card but sadly these were stopped a few years ago. If you want, you can print out the details at the end of signing up.

When collecting your prescription, you just need to tick the box to say you have a prepayment certificate. You might need to give the number to the pharmacist, who might jot it down on your prescription, though I’ve probably had to do this only two or three times in the past. 

If you lose your email, you can enter your details here to confirm that you have one, though this only shows the expiry date and not the PPC number. 

How to buy a prescription prepayment certificate

You can buy a prepayment certificate on the NHS website. You’ll need to enter your date of birth, your full name, address and NHS number (if you know it). Then you can select between a 12 month or three month PPC, with the option to pay monthly by direct debit or in full for the 12 month option, or in full for the three month one. 

Your PPC is automatically renewed after 12 months if you pay by direct debit, and you’ll get a new email with your new PPC number. Otherwise, you’ll need to manually renew. You do get an email to remind you that it’s coming up, though. 

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How to lower your prescription costs

The best way to save money on prescriptions is using a prescription prepayment certificate, as detailed above, but you can also take some steps to reduce the costs of one-off prescriptions.

Firstly, check if you have to pay at all. A huge number of people get prescriptions for free — you might be entitled to free prescriptions because of your age, benefits you receive, where you live, which medical conditions you have or whether you’re pregnant or have recently had a baby. You can check your entitlement here

Secondly, if you get something monthly, try asking your doctor to issue a couple of months at a time. This isn’t always possible, depending on what you get, but you’re charged per product, not per box, so you can get multiple for the one prescription fee.

Finally, check if the item can be bought over the counter for less — this often happens with steroid creams and eye drops. Usually the pharmacist or even the doctor will tell you if you’d save money without using the prescription, but not always. 

One thought on “How to save money on prescriptions

  1. Come on, somebody add that table!


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