University is the time where you finally get to experience independence. Living in accommodation halls away from home means you will have to pay for most things yourself. There are many options to help you settle into adulthood well. These include discounts and exclusive deals. However, given that most university students are older than 18, not everything is covered. Healthcare costs can be especially expensive and can take up a large chunk of your student finance.
Unfortunately, in England most students will have to pay for their prescriptions unless they are eligible for free prescriptions. This is not the case for the rest of the UK where students registered with a GP can have free prescriptions. Students in full time education of the ages 16, 17 to 18 can get free prescriptions. However, university is not considered as mandatory full-time education, hence why the majority of university students will not be eligible for free prescriptions.
Read on to find out what makes someone eligible for free prescriptions, and what other medications and treatments university students can get for free.
Who can get free prescriptions?
According to the NHS, you must fit into their criteria to be eligible for free prescriptions. The criteria includes the standard under 16 and over 60 rule. However, there are also many rules that could apply to university students. Anyone who may need more regular check-ups is usually eligible. For example, if you are a student who is currently pregnant or has had a baby in the past 12 months, you would be eligible.
Medical exemption certificates are also given to those who have a continuing physical disability or a specified medical condition. If this applies to you, speak to your GP to see if you are eligible and they will give you the application form.
Of course, before you are eligible for free prescriptions, you must be able to prove it. The NHSBSA website provides a detailed list of what information you will need to provide in your application.
What should you do if you can’t afford prescription charges?
Many university students may also apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme. Your eligibility is based on your income rather than your household income. Anyone can apply for this scheme as long as their savings, investments or property value do not exceed £16,000. If you need full help you can receive a HC2 certificate or if you only need partial help, you can receive a HC3 certificate.
The length of time your certificate is valid for will depend on your circumstances. It might not cover all your time at university. If you are not eligible for any of the above, you will have to pay for your prescriptions.
In the UK, prescriptions will cost £9.35 per item. This is not too bad for most people. It is important to note that this figure could change. You can find more about NHS prescription charges here on the NHS website.
If you have long term medical conditions and require frequent prescriptions, you may be interested in getting a prepayment prescription certificate (PPC). There are different PPC payment plans which can save you money in the long run. You can read more about PPC on the NHS website.
Prescriptions can be an unexpected cost so you should be sure to allocate part of your budget towards it and other healthcare expenses. Check out this article from Think Student for ways that you could manage your budget.
What healthcare services can students get for free?
If you are moving out for university, it is important to make proper healthcare arrangements. This includes registering with a GP and dentist close to your university. You will spend most of the year at your university so you can access health services quickly. This is especially important if you have an ongoing medical condition.
Registering with a GP is completely free as they provide services for the NHS. Even though you can’t get prescriptions for free, there are still many medications and services you can have for free. Some of these services are done at your GP or at other NHS clinics.
Contraceptives and STI treatments and testing are all free and are advised for students by the NHS. You can get tested for STIs for free if you drop by a STI clinic. Your GP doesn’t even have to be informed of this if you don’t give permission.
University students are more vulnerable to certain illnesses due to living in close proximity. It is for this reason that the NHS advises students to get important vaccinations before the first few weeks of term.
The MenACWY vaccination protects against 4 different causes of meningitis and septicaemia: meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases. First-time university students up to the age of 25 are all eligible for this vaccine. If you have not already had the vaccine as a teenager you should contact your GP to administer it before starting university.
More information about this vaccine can be found here on the NHS website.
Hopefully this article has provided you with a better understanding of the health-related expenses you may have to prepare for before university.