Destination England

Our journey from debt to England…and everything in between!

Free Diabetic Prescriptions!

with 3 comments

Last night Sarah and I made our way to our local pharmacy to pick up our prescriptions and something for dinner.  Upon walking in there was a big sign that said “Free Diabetic Medicines!” and listed five common medicines used to treat diabetes.  Two of which –metformin and glipizide – I happen to be on!  I spoke with the pharmacist to confirm (because this sounded too good to be true), and indeed they were free. So how does this help the budget? I’ve broken down the costs we spend on prescriptions.

My Prescriptions:

  • Metformin – $8
  • Glipizide – $6
  • Lisinopril – $4
  • Simvastatin  – $4
  • Vitamin D – $6
  • Byetta – $40
  • Needles – $5 (this every three months)
  • Testing strips – $25

Sarah’s Prescriptions:

  • Birth Control – $10
  • Vitamin D – $6
  • Thyroxin – $6

I’m spending roughly $94.67 a month for my prescriptions before this offer.   My wife pays about $22 for her three prescriptions.  That brings our monthly total to around $117 a month. With getting metformin and glipizide for free, that saves $14 a month, bringing the montly total to $113 a month.  So by saving $14 a month, I’m saving $168 a year!

Moving to England looks to bring even more savings for us on the prescriptions front.  According the NHS website, prescriptions have risen to £7.20 for a prescription – I will assume that is for a single 30 day supply, £28.25 for a 90 day prescription, and £104 for a year long prescription. So using that math, my six prescriptions would cost £43.20 a month. Now, my wife is also on medication, which would add three more prescriptions, bring the total to £64.80 a month.  Keeping the £ and the $ relative, that’s cutting our prescription costs in half.  That being said, reading further down on the site, I found this:

Medical exemption (MedEx) certificates are issued on application to people who have:

  • A permanent fistula (for example caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) requiring an appliance or continuous surgical dressing.
  • A form of hypoadrenalism (for example Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is needed.
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism.
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone.
  • Hypoparathyroidism.
  • Myasthenia gravis.
  • Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement).
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy.
  • Continuing physical disability which means the person can’t go out without the help of another person. Temporary disabilities do not count even if they last for several months.

Reading that, it looks looks like I would qualify for the MedEx certificate.  Also, my wife would qualify as she recently found out she has Hashimoto’s Disease, which will in all likelihood leave her with an underactive thyroid.  This means that all of our prescription costs would not cost us any out of pocket expenses.  I would be very relieved having not to worry about any out of pocket expenses for my medicines.  I’d that £64.80 a month and put that into a high yield savings account, or a college fund for Connor.  While we aren’t anywhere close to a plan similar to the English equivalent, the fact that some pharmacies are starting to offer free diabetic medicines, and antibiotics is a good start.  I’ve only seen Meijer and Giant Eagle doing this, but a google search revealed a chain called Publix is offering free metformin to its customers.  Hopefully this is a trend that will continue to help combat the rising costs of prescriptions!

Written by Jas

April 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

3 Responses

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  1. It depends on how long a supply your GP prescribes, if, for instance, they prescribe you 90 days worth in one go, you’d probably get the entire lot for £7.20, but I don’t know how often you’d need to be seen by your doctor or if they would do it on a repeat prescription basis so don’t quote me on that 🙂 If you get prescriptions on a regular basis you can get a prepay certificate which often works out cheaper.

    Also, all prescribed birth control is free here in the UK, so that will save you cash too.

    This is why I love the NHS!


    April 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    • This is definitely fascinating. This is definitely something I would like to research further. Over here in the states, our doctors can write you either a 30 day supply or a 90 day supply with “x” amount of refills. When you drop that off your cost is per refill (so if you get a monthly prescription with five refills, you’re paying the cost each month or refill as well as the initial filling). I’ve heard it said that basically whatever is written on the prescription is the £7.20. So in your example, the 90 supply would be £7.20, whereas here it would be whatever your copay is through insurance or however much is charged. 90 days are usually cheaper in the long run, but more up front. Thanks for the comment!


      April 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

  2. Hi Jason,

    Your right – If you have any form of Diabetes do not pay for any prescriptions – no matter what they are taking, all prescriptions are free – but I’m not sure if you would get this as soon as you settle here – you may have to work and pay NI before you can get these. Sarah, would get Birth control free and like me,anyone with Hypothyroidism, would get all prescriptions free. If you do have to pay for the 1st year (hopefully I’m wrong) you can get a pre-payment certificate and these make one hell of a difference to your monthly budge – Not as good as free but next best thing.


    April 26, 2010 at 5:18 am

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