I’m so sorry for not posting for the past few days, it has been unbelievably hectic at work. But after a day hiking up mountains and ransacking my flat, throwing out all the rubbish me and my partner have collected over the past year, I thought it was time to update you all on one amazing thing that happened this week.
I now get free prescriptions.
For the past 13 years I have paid through the roof to suffer from Crohns/Ulcerative Colitis. In fact the prescriptions have got so expensive I have had to rely on my parents to pay for the endless amount of green forms that I have needed to get filled in on an often daily basis. In fact my parents soon realised that it was more than worth shelling out the £104.00 for a prepaid prescription card. In fact paying up front for my prescriptions, instead of shelling out £7.85 for each item quickly saved both me and my folks a fortune…indeed just one month after paying out the cash we had got our monies worth after I was prescribed a shed load of painkillers, steroids, ensure drinks, suppositories, asacol – to name just a few of what the doctor decided I needed to shell out for – which would have cost around £80.
For people living with chronic conditions or who have children with illness prescriptions are too expensive. It’s that simple. If you have an ongoing condition simply buying your daily medication can tip your finances over the edge if your already struggling to make ends meet. I have no idea how families with one or more people needing constant medication manage to even put food on the table. And it’s not only the maintenance medication that needs to be forked out for every few weeks; it’s the emergency steroids, and the constant antibiotics, eye drops, haemorrhoids, joint medication, skin medication, creams, lotions and potions and all kinds of other things inflicted upon us due to our low immune system caused by our chronic illnesses.
I think if I’d kept all my prescription slips over the past 13 years I would be drowning in a sea of green forms. I don’t think there would be anywhere for me to lie down; I wouldn’t be able to cook, bathe or even sleep…let alone find the medication I’d paid my entire salary for to keep me alive. And I think by now – if it wasn’t for help from my parents and their amazing idea to get the prepaid card – both me and my whole family would have forked out way over £10,000 in money for my medication alone – it’s probably been about that much anyway!
If it wasn’t for my parents paying for a lot of my main prescriptions I honestly don’t know what I would have done. On a trainee reporters wage £7 plus two, three, four times a week would have been too much and as a student it would have meant eating baked beans straight out of the tin – that wouldn’t have been good for my IBD diet at all.
I’ll attempt to do a sum here – if I’d paid what it costs now £7.83 for one prescription a week (I know it used to be less but this is just to prove a point) for 13 years it would have cost:
ONE PRESCRIPTION PER WEEK = £31.32 a month (I think) eek my maths are not great
£31.32 x 12 = £375.84 a year
= £4,885.92 for 13 years
And that’s only one prescription a week – some weeks I still have five or six. I would probably say that until I had my ostomy last year I was probably averaging four prescriptions a week – which could go up to eight or nine – so that makes it more like £125.28 a week or £1,503.36 a year or £19,543.68 over the past 13 years. And that doesn’t even take into account my ostomy bags and accessories. Oh, and all the years of Infliximab and other infusions which were (not sure about now) paid for by the NHS.
So a couple of weeks ago, after seeking some advice from the trusty internet, my mum encouraged me to go to the doctors to see if there was any chance of me getting free prescriptions because of my ostomy. And there was. Because I have an ostomy and a fistula I am eligible to get free prescriptions. I know that most websites say that you need a permanent stoma, colostomy or fistula to be eligible for free persriptions, but my doctor told me to apply – and it worked.
And i’m not cheating, my ostomy will become permanent this year. And, you know what my Crohn’s is not going away. In my opinion anyone with this condition should be entitled to free prescriptions. I know we don’t have it as hard as the US, I won’t even claim to be medically bankrupt, but if I’d had to pay for three years of infliximab I would be.
And if things couldn’t get any better, the form says that even if your medical situation changes you can get free prescriptions until your card runs out – they last five years and for all that time all of your prescriptions, whether related to your ongoing medical condition or not are free.
It’s about time, that’s all I can say.
For more on free prescriptions if you have an ostomy or colostomy see http://www.stomawise.co.uk/lifestyle/prescriptions-medex
For more on prepayment certificates – they really are worth it – http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/Prescriptioncosts.aspx
To apply for a Medical exemption certificate ask your doctor for an FP92A form. Your GP, hospital or service doctor will sign the form to confirm that your statement is correct. At your GP’s discretion, a member of the practice who has access to your medical records can also sign the form.
Your certificate will be valid from one month before the date that the NHS Business Authrority receives the application form.
The MedEx lasts for five years and then needs to be renewed. You may receive a reminder that your certificate needs to be renewed. If you don’t receive a reminder, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is renewed.
You can find more information about the application process and refunds on the NHS Business Authority’s website.