As the cost of living crisis continues we’re all trying to make savings wherever we can. And whether that’s saving money or simply our time, every little thing adds up and helps right now. So if you’re feeling the pinch, make sure you know about these clever health hacks. They could make a big difference to your budget – with brilliant added health benefits!
- Save money on prescriptions
If you pay for prescriptions, you’ll know that repeat medication can soon add up. But did you know that the NHS offers something called a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). It’s basically like a season ticket where you pay a lump sum upfront and your prescriptions for the months or year ahead are covered, no matter how many you need.
‘I always tell patients to use it if they are on repeat medication because it can save you hundreds of pounds a year,’ says ZoomDoc Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone.
You can choose from a 3-month certificate or a 12-month certificate, depending on whether you just need medication short-term or for longer. It doesn’t cover things like contraception, which is free, but it does cover anything that the GP prescribes and will normally cost you £9.35 a time.
Here’s how it works:
- 3-month PPC costs £30.25 – saves you money if you need more than 3 prescriptions within 3 months.
- 12-month PPC costs £108.10 – saves you money if you need more than 11 prescriptions within 1 year.
If you regularly need 2 prescribed items a month, this will save you £116.30 if you have a 12-month PPC. If you need 3 prescriptions per month, you’ll save £228.50. So it’s worth looking into. If you think you’ll benefit, apply for yours here.
You’ll be emailed a certificate to prove you’ve paid for your prescriptions already. Just show this whenever you collect yours and you won’t need to pay a penny.
Obviously if you’re over 60, under 16, 16-18 and in full-time education, are pregnant or have a valid medical exemption certificate, your prescriptions will be free.
- Buy unbranded medicine
Most parents stock up on Calpol for their kids – it’s a trusted and recognisable brand, after all. But next time you pop to the pharmacy for some pain relief, whoever it’s for, save money by choosing unbranded versions. Every medicine has what’s called a brand name (Calpol) and a generic name for the active ingredient (paracetamol). Calpol, for instance, owns the patent for their product but once this expires, other companies can make their own version under a different name at a cheaper price. It’s a bit like choosing Tesco Baked Beans as opposed to Heinz. So next time you need some medicine, ask your pharmacist for an unbranded option. ‘They contain the same key ingredient, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, so will work just the same to bring down a fever, but they cost less,’ says Dr Kenny.
Here’s what you could be saving*:
- Anadin paracetamol cost £1.60 for 12 tablets
Tesco Paracetamol costs 39p for 16 tablets
- Calpol Infant Sugar Free costs £3.30 for 100ml
Tesco Children’s Paracetamol 2 month Plus costs £2.30 for 100ml
- Nurofen Ibuprofen costs £1 for 8 tablets
Tesco Ibuprofen costs 39p for 16 tablets
(*Prices taken from Tesco March 2023)
- Know when to see the GP (and when not to)
In the UK we’re lucky that seeing the doctor doesn’t cost a penny – unless it’s to see them for what’s called a non-NHS service, which carries a charge. ‘Some services aren’t covered by the NHS, for instance, if you need a medical letter for your employer, airline or for insurance purposes,’ explains Dr Kenny. ‘Although your GP will do this for you, you’ll still need to pay for the letter and you’ll need to make the appointment, go to it and then return another time to collect the letter, costing you time and money,’ he adds. To help, ZoomDoc offers a same-day medical letter service where you can click on the note you need, fill in some details and get what you need the same day. You’ll have to pay £35-40 for the letter – roughly the same as if it were via the NHS – but it won’t take up more than a few minutes of your time. ‘And it frees up your NHS GP to see sick patients who really need an appointment,’ says Dr Kenny. Genius!
Read more time-saving tips to do with seeing your GP here.
- See the doctor when it suits you
Whether you’re working, looking after little ones or juggling doing both, your time and health are precious. If you’ve got a health niggle bothering you or think you need antibiotics for a throat infection, you probably want to see a doctor but can’t always find the time – that’s if you can get an appointment that works for you.
‘With ZoomDoc you can use our app to speak to a doctor when it suits you. Our GPs can prescribe antibiotics, if required, or give you medical advice for something worrying you so you can get further help or get back on your feet as soon as possible,’ says Dr Kenny. Appointments start from £35 but it’s a small price to pay when it works better for you!
- Get fit for free
Getting healthier means getting fit but if you’re put off exercising by the price of gym membership or find workout classes too intimidating, this should help. Recent research found that just walking for 11 minutes every day can do wonders for your health, reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke – and it’s totally free so you can get fitter without any cost. Of course, the ideal amount of exercise to aim for is 150 minutes of exercise per week, roughly double that amount of time per day. But ‘anything is better than none and even a short daily walk is a great health habit to get into,’ says Dr Kenny.
For more ways to get fit for free – and to stay healthy – download one of these clever health apps.
- Take advantage of pregnancy perks
When you’re pregnant don’t forget you’re entitled to some health freebies that can save you money during and even after your pregnancy. These include:
- Free NHS dental appointments (available with proof of pregnancy during pregnancy and until your baby turns 1)
- Free prescriptions – don’t suffer with pregnancy ailments like indigestion. See your doctor about getting Gaviscon prescribed for you.
- Free flu jab – during your pregnancy you’re eligible for a free flu jab as well as other vaccines (COVID, whooping cough) to keep you and your baby healthy and protected.
- Quit smoking
Quitting smoking is no mean feat, but there are so many advantages to stopping. Not only to your physical and mental health – you’ll start to notice an improvement within six weeks, says NHS guidance. ‘Your skin, circulation and blood pressure will all improve and you’ll reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke and halve your risk of some cancers within a few years of quitting,’ says Dr Kenny.
But on top of all those health benefits, you’ll also save a small fortune, which is a huge motivator on the Quit Smoking NHS app. It lets you see how much you usually spend on cigarettes and how much you’re saving every week, month and how that will look after a year.
And not only will quitting save you money, it’ll save the NHS money, too. Recent analysis by Cancer Research UK shows that up to 75,000 GP appointments could be freed up each month in England if everyone quit smoking. To get help and support with quitting, talk to your doctor, call a ZoomDoc GP or download the NHS’ app . Aim for 28 days of no smoking and you’ll be 5 times more likely to quit for good. What are you waiting for?