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What is a Prepaid Prescription Card?
Pay for your prescriptions in advance
If you regularly collect NHS prescriptions, then you may have heard about prescription prepayment. This is a system whereby NHS prescriptions supplied in England can be covered by an exemption certificate and at a lower price. It’s designed to make prescriptions more affordable and convenient for people who use them regularly.
In order to benefit from prepaid prescriptions, you have to apply for a prepaid prescription card. The official name for this card is a prescription prepayment certificate or PPC. If you think you could benefit from a PPC, read on.
Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) Cards
A PPC is the size and shape of a bank card, and fits easily into a normal wallet or purse. It displays the NHS logo and says “NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate” at the top. The card also bears a certificate number, your full name, as well as both start and end dates.
You can use a PPC card whenever you visit a pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Instead of paying for the prescription, simply show the pharmacist your PPC card. If the card displays the same name as the prescription and is still valid, they will be able to hand over your medication for free.
The purpose of prepaid prescriptions is to make NHS medicines more affordable for people who take medication regularly. There are two options:
- A three-month card, priced at £29.10
- A 12-month card, priced at £104
If you wish to apply for a three-month PPC card, you will have to make a one-off payment of £29.10 (which can be done by credit card, debit card, cheque, postal order or in cash at a pharmacy till).
If you wish to apply for a 12-month PPC card, you can make a one-off payment or set up a Direct Debit. If you opt for a Direct Debit, you will have 10 instalments of £10.40 taken from your account over the 12-month period. This is particularly convenient if you anticipate renewing your PPC at the end of the year, as normally the Direct Debit will automatically renew your plan and your Direct Debit payments will continue.
The chief benefit of applying for a prepaid prescription card is that you can save money. However, in order to make any savings, you need to be picking up more than one prescription items per month, which you would otherwise be paying for.
Currently, prescriptions in England are priced at £9 per item. If you are only picking up one prescription item per month, you will not save any money by applying for a PPC card.
If you pick up two prescription items per month, you can save over £112 a year (with a 12-month PPC) and over £20 within a three-month period (with a three-month PPC).
If you pick up four prescription items per month, you can save over £328 a year (with a 12-month PPC) and over £75 within a three-month period (with a three-month PPC).
A key consideration before you commit to a PPC card is your eligibility for free prescriptions.
Using your Prepaid Prescription Card
Once you have your PPC card you can use it as many times as you need to within the valid period. Just remember to bring it with you whenever you visit the pharmacy to collect your medication.
If you are not otherwise eligible for free prescriptions and you think that you could save money and time by applying for an NHS prepayment card, then view here and apply online today.
If you aren’t able to apply online, or you simply would prefer not to, there are three other ways to get hold of your prescription card:
- At a pharmacy
If you want to apply for your PPC card by post you will have to obtain a FP95 form (available here or in pharmacies or doctors surgeries). Fill out the form and arrange payment using a cheque, postal order or Direct Debit (only available for the 12-month prepayment plan).
You should send your form to:
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
If you want to apply for your prescription card by phone, call this number: 0300 330 1341. You will be asked for the relevant payment details over the phone, so make sure you have your card to hand.
If you want to arrange your PPC card in person, have a look this list to find a participating pharmacy. You can take in your FP95 form and pay for your PPC card at the till. Unfortunately with this option, you cannot opt for a Direct Debit.
When applying for your prescription card, you will be given the option of selecting a start date. You can have your PPC card made valid from the day you order it, or alternatively you can choose a start date up to one month before or after the day your pay for it.
If you decide to backdate your PPC card you will be able to claim a refund on prescriptions you ordered within the period covered by your new card, provided you have a FP57 refund form. You will also be able to claim refunds on any prescriptions purchased while you are waiting for your PPC card to arrive.
In England, certain people are eligible for free prescriptions; in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all prescriptions are free.
You are eligible to receive free prescriptions in England if you present the pharmacy with evidence that you are:
- Under 16
- Aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- Aged 60 or over
- Pregnant or have had a baby in the past year
- Exempt from paying because of a specific medical condition
- Exempt because you have a physical disability and cannot go out without the help of another person
Financial circumstances are also taken into account when it comes to eligibility for free prescriptions (find out more here). It’s also worth bearing in mind that all prescriptions for contraceptives are free, so no savings will be made on contraception using a PPC card.
Prepayment prescription renewal is simple if you are using the 12-month plan and paying with a Direct Debit. Upon expiry, your PPC will automatically renew, with payments continuing to leave your account.
If you are not paying by Direct Debit you can go through the normal application process again. While you are waiting to receive your new prepaid prescription card, you are eligible for refunds for any prescriptions you have to collect.
Ask your pharmacist for an FP57 refund form when you pay for your prescription. When you receive your PPC card, don’t forget to take your refund forms to your local pharmacy, within three months of receiving your card.
Once you’ve received your PPC card you should make an effort to keep it safe and on hand for when you need to use it.
In the event that you lose or damage your PPC card, you can request a new one. You should receive a new one within 10 working days. While waiting for your replacement card, make sure that you keep track of any prescriptions you have paid for as you can claim a refund once your new card arrives.