In the UK, we are fortunate to have a national health service that covers most of our healthcare costs. Despite the problems that the NHS has these days, few countries around the world offer subsidised healthcare to citizens to the extent that our NHS does in Britain.
But, the NHS doesn’t cover all of our healthcare costs. For some people, especially those with a need for regular prescriptions and treatment, there are some costs to bear. And it’s those costs that can have a significant impact on low-income households.
If that sounds like a familiar story, the good news is there are some creative ways to save money on your health costs. Here are a few examples to give you some ideas on what you can do.
NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)
If you’re on a low income of £16,000 per year or less, you might be entitled to the NHS low income scheme. The LIS is means-tested as is the case when applying for any other state benefits. If you qualify for the LIS, you can get help with prescription, dental, and eye care costs. You could even get assistance with healthcare travel costs, wigs and fabric supports.
NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC)
Some people will always need to pay for prescription medicine. Currently, the charge for each prescription medicine is £9.00. If you need to pay for several different types of medicine regularly, that can soon add up to a lot of medical expenses!
Fortunately, the NHS offers everyone a way to save on those prescription costs, even if they aren’t entitled to free prescriptions. The NHS prescription prepayment certificate is essentially a way to save money if you have to pay for two or more medicines.
At the time of writing, you can buy a three-month certificate at £29.10, or a twelve-month one at £104.00. If you opt for the latter, you could save a minimum of £112 a year if you need two medicines per month. In general, the more medicines you have to pay for, the bigger the savings.
Cheaper lenses for existing glasses
The NHS does offer free eye sight and eye health tests to those who meet certain criteria and they also offer optical vouchers to help pay towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. However, frames vary in price, with better quality or more comfortable ones costing more than the cheaper models.
If you have to wear glasses regularly, you may need different lenses at least once a year. The good news is you don’t have to keep buying new frames each time your prescription changes. That’s because you can buy replacement lenses for your existing frames!
This can be a much cheaper option than replacing the glasses frames and lenses every time your prescription changes. If you’re happy with your frames then ask your optician whether you can save money by replacing your lenses only or use an online service to save even more money.
Over-the-counter medicines versus prescribed ones
Did you know that some GPs and hospitals will prescribe you certain medicines that are cheaper to buy over-the-counter at your local pharmacy?
It’s a crazy thought, but sadly one that isn’t uncommon today. When you next get prescribed a particular medicine, ask your pharmacist if there’s an over-the-counter alternative that is cheaper than the cost of the NHS prescription.
Sometimes, certain medicines might get sold under different brand names. The ingredients of that medication are identical, so as long as you stick to the prescribed dose, you can potentially save a lot of money.
Treat yourself for minor ailments
Or, even better, is to see if you can treat minor ailments yourself instead of going straight to the doctor for a prescription. Many people can source medications for minor illnesses themselves from a pharmacy. A prescription is not always needed.
Going to the pharmacy can be easier, quicker and cheaper than going to the NHS for a prescription. Too many people are going to the NHS for medications they can buy as part of their normal weekly shop, wasting doctor appointments and costing the NHS valuable money.
If you need lots of prescriptions or medications then these are lots of ways you could slash the costs.