The money saving expert found that people missed out on savings of around £40 due to not having an NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). Mr Lewis is urging people with more than one prescription each month, including those with chronic conditions, to check the savings they could be making on medication costs.
MoneySavingExpert conducted an investigation and found that in the year to April 2021, 1,063,648 people paid for at least 12 prescriptions in the 2020/21 financial year, with 16 being purchased on average.
At the time, an annual PPC cost £106, while a single prescription cost £9.15.
The PPC covers the cost of all pharmacy-dispensed medication for one year so can be used to help people save if they have multiple prescriptions within the year.
People who paid each time they went to the pharmacy overspent by £40 on average over the year, totalling £43million.
The “season tickets” are worth checking now, Money Saving Expert said, as prescription and PPC prices tend to rise each April, although the costs for the 2022/23 financial year have not been announced yet.
These certificates can be a money saver for those with multiple, chronic prescriptions, however those who just receive the odd medication every few months could end up paying more with this certificate.
On Twitter, @MrsCartlidge responded to the research done by the money saving expert and said: “Having an annual certificate has saved me so much over the last year it’s totally worth it.”
@louant22 said: “This saves me so much money and means I can go to the doctors and not worry I haven’t got the cost of the prescription to find. I’d definitely recommend it.”
The prepayment certificate can be purchased for a three month or one year period, and helps to cover the cost of pharmacy dispensed medication over either three months or one year.
In April 2021, prescription costs increased to £9.35 per item and annual PPC costs rose to £108.10.
Alternatively, people can purchase a three-month season ticket. This costs £30.25, which could save someone money if they buy four or more prescriptions during that time.
The number of people who could have saved money by buying an annual PPC has risen steadily for each of the past six years.
2021 marked the third year running that more than one million patients could have saved using one, the money saving expert said.
Mr Lewis said: “England is the only one of the four UK nations that charges for prescriptions, and so it’s frustrating to hear that many people are still paying more than they need to.
“We need to spread the word to anyone who regularly gets prescriptions – including some with chronic illnesses – to check out prepayment certificates.
“These season tickets cap what you need to pay, as for a one-off payment, you get unlimited prescriptions for either three months or a year.
“My simple rule of thumb is if you get more than one prescription a month on average – these are the cheapest way. And someone getting, say, two prescriptions a month would save over £100 a year.”
Britons can buy a PPC by card or direct debit on the NHS Business Services Authority website or by calling 0300 330 1341.
A PPC can also be purchased in person at many pharmacies, or via the NHS Business Services Authority website.
Mr Lewis said patients should always check first if they qualify for an exemption to avoid paying entirely.
People can check if they are entitled to free prescriptions using the NHS online checker.