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What is an NHS Prepayment Certificate?
NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate
The NHS prescription prepayment scheme was established as a way of helping patients in England save money on the cost of their prescriptions.
An NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) is essentially a prepaid card, which you can show to the pharmacist when you go to collect your prescription medication. It is the size and shape of a bank card (meaning it can easily fit in a wallet or purse) and it’s printed with your name, certificate number and the start and end dates of your card.
When you apply for an NHS prepayment certificate, you will pay in advance for your prescriptions over a set period and, in the process, save money (provided you pick up more than one prescription items per month). This is a fantastic way of saving money and time if you’re someone who has to regularly visit the pharmacy for medication or healthcare supplies.
Who can benefit from an NHS prepayment certificate?
Anyone who lives with an ongoing medical condition or disability will know that healthcare can be expensive. Though we are all able to benefit from the free medical care provided by the National Health Service, there are certain services everyone is expected to pay for. If you live in England and don’t fall into certain health or income related categories, you will have to pay for your prescription medication.
The good news is that if you are picking up prescriptions on a regular basis, you could benefit from an NHS prepayment certificate.
Types of NHS Prepayment Certificate
There are two types of NHS prepayment certificate: one lasting three months, and one lasting 12 months.
A three-month certificate can be a good idea if you are suffering from an acute (i.e. short-term) illness or undergoing a temporary period of treatment. A 12-month certificate is more appropriate if you have a chronic condition or permanent disability.
The three-month certificate is priced at £29.10, and must be paid for in one lump sum. The 12-month certificate is priced at £104, and can be paid for in one go, or in ten instalments of £10.40 by Direct Debit.
Most people who apply for an NHS prepayment certificate do so to save money. The amount of money you can save depends upon which type of certificate you buy, and how many prescription items you pick up each month.
Currently, one single prescription item on the NHS is priced at £9. This means that if you take in a prescription with several items on it, you will have to pay £9 for each item. If you pick up one prescription item each month, you will be paying £27 over three months and £108 over 12 months. In this case, you will make savings if you apply for an NHS prepayment certificate.
You can start making savings if you are picking up more than one prescription items each month. If you collect four or more prescription items per month, you can save over £75 with a three-month certificate and over £320 with a 12-month certificate.
The savings are ultimately better with a 12-month certificate, but you should only apply for this option if you anticipate using prescription medications regularly for the foreseeable future.
Before you apply
One thing to make sure of before you apply for your NHS prepayment certificate is that you are not already entitled to free prescriptions.
Prescriptions are free to all residents of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are also free to anyone under 16 or over 60 (or between 16 and 18 and in full-time education). Patients with certain medical conditions or disabilities can also benefit from free prescriptions, as can people on a low income or specific benefits.
To find out whether you qualify for free prescriptions, consult our free prescriptions article.
Applying for a PPC?
It’s very easy to apply for an NHS prepayment certificate. You do not require permission from your doctor; all you need to do is fill in some personal details, decide when you would like your certificate to start and end, and provide payment.
You can choose to have your certificate become valid up to one month from the date you apply. You can also backdate your certificate by up to one month. This means that you will be able to claim back money from prescriptions you have paid for in the past month, provided that you have FP57 refund forms for the relevant items.
The easiest way to get your NHS prepayment certificate is to apply online, click here to find out more.
You can also apply for your certificate through the post. Download the FP95 form here, or pick one up in a pharmacy or doctor’s surgery. You should fill out the form and send it to:
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
You can pay by cheque or postal order, or set up a Direct Debit if you are applying for the 12-month certificate.
On the phone
To apply for your certificate over the phone, call this number: 0300 330 1341. You’ll need a bank card to hand to arrange payment.
If you would rather apply for your certificate in person, you can go into a participating pharmacy with the FP95 application form. If you choose to do this you will have to pay at the till, and will not be able to opt for the 12-month Direct Debit.
Once you have your PPC you can use it as much as you want within the period it is valid. Visit your local pharmacy with your prescription, show the pharmacist your in-date card, and you won’t have to pay for your medication. It’s that simple!
Renewing your NHS prepayment certificate is incredibly easy. If you want to get another three-month card, you can simply go through the application process again, making sure that you get FP57 receipts for any prescriptions you pay for while you’re waiting for your new card to arrive.
The same goes for renewing the 12-month card, however the process is made even easier if you are paying with a Direct Debit. If you do not cancel your Direct Debit at the end of the year, your certificate will normally automatically renew.
You can apply for a Prepayment Certificate in your local pharmacy, on the phone by calling 0300 330 1341, by post or online.
To send you application by post, download the FP95 form here, fill it out and send it to:
NHS Buisness Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
To find out how to apply online, click here.
You are eligible to receive free prescriptions in England if you present the pharmacy with evidence that you are:
Financial circumstances are also taken into account when it comes to eligibility, find out more here.