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Money, Save It

An NHS PPC | Would prescription prepayment save you money?

A white pill tub. The lid is off. You can see white and red capsules within the medicine tub and around it.

If you live in England and you’re not exempt, then you’ll have to pay for your prescriptions. Whilst free NHS prescriptions would be nice, I don’t begrudge paying for prescribed medication. I can afford to pay prescription charges and I’m just grateful to have the NHS (and my health), so I just pay up. However, the cost can quickly add up if you’re prescribed more than one regular medication. So if an NHS PPC (Prescription Prepayment Certificate) would save you money, you should consider buying one.

How does the NHS PCC work?

An NHS PPC (or an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate, to give it its full title), allows you to get an unlimited number of prescriptions within a set time frame. You can purchase a 3-month certificate, or invest in an annual one. 

How much does prescription prepayment cost?

At the time of updating this article (February 2022) NHS prescription charges in England are set at £9.35 per item. But NHS prescription costs are reviewed periodically and they usually go up by a few pence every year. 

An NHS PCC would cover you for an unlimited number of prescriptions over a set time frame. It currently costs:

  • £30.25 for 3 months
  • £108.10 for 12 months (or 10 monthly direct debit instalments of £10.81)

You can buy it from the NHS directly.

Is an NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) worth it?

If you’re on more than one regular medication and you pay for your prescriptions, then certificates are definitely worth purchasing. You’ll save a fortune by accessing this scheme (and it has been created to help those that need regular medication). But I think it’s worth everybody sitting down and accessing their personal circumstances to determine if they’d save by purchasing an NHS PPC. 

For example, if a patient wanted to get a 3-month pass instead and you only used it to get one regular item (the equivalent of one prescription per month), then you’d end up paying £2.20 extra. But if you needed another ad-hoc prescription during that 3-month period then you’d be quids in.

If you’re on regular long-term medication then an annual NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate would save you money just by obtaining one regular item. Here’s how:

  • 12 x £9.35 prescriptions = £112.20
  • 1 x annual NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate = £108.10
  • Saving = £4.10

Will this scheme help me to save money on my prescriptions?

Granted, £4.10 is not a massive saving, but if you end up ill during the year and you get prescribed something else, then you will save. You should also check to see if the pharmacy you want to nominate to receive your medication is running any type of sign-up promotion; Lloyds Pharmacy (for example) offers a £5 voucher if you nominate them as your preferred pharmacy. 

Have you bought a NHS PCC? Do you think it was a worthwhile purchase? Prescription charges may be part of life, but it’s worth saving money on them if we can! You can also read about how I save money on over-the-counter medication too. 

If you don’t think you’d save much by doing this, then look at my list of free money sources in the UK instead. I’ve also written a handy round up, containing ways to save money on a tight budget.

The image shows a yellow surface. There are tablets on the surface, placed in the shape of a question mark. The text over the image reads: ‘Hacks: will I save money if I buy an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate’.

What if I need a refund on my certificate?

If you buy an NHS PPC and your circumstances change and you become eligible for free prescriptions, then you can claim a refund. You can do this by filling in a form on the NHSBSA website. Or you can call them on 03003 301341. Advisers are available 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday and from 9am-3pm on Saturday. 

NHSBSA will ask you how your circumstances have changed and they may ask to see proof. You may also be asked to return the original NHS PPC, so make a copy of it before you send it. 

You usually have to claim your refund within three months of your NHS PPC expiring, or within three months of your new benefit being issued. So make sure you act promptly if you do become eligible for a refund. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.