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Audit of free prescription claims aims to safeguard health budget

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

People who tick the box on their prescription form to claim exemption from charges are being reminded they must be able to prove they are eligible for the concession.

The advice follows a snapshot audit recently carried out at the request of Treasury on a random sample of prescription forms. It showed that in a number of cases, patients have claimed a free prescription when there is no supporting evidence they are exempt from charges. Currently, 90% of prescriptions in the Island are dispensed free of charge to patients, who are required to confirm when presenting the form at the pharmacy that they are exempt from charges.

Minister for the Department of Health and Social Care David Ashford highlighted the need to ensure best use of the Department’s budget as the driver for scrutiny:

‘We’re having a look at the way we manage prescription charge exemptions.  In the Isle of Man, as in the UK, the system relies largely on the honesty of the patient. Fraudulently claiming exemption is taking money from the health service which could be better spent elsewhere, so we’re encouraging people to act honestly and be prepared to provide evidence of their exemption.’

The Department is writing to those identified in the audit as potentially claiming free prescriptions wrongly, to ask them to clarify their exemption. Pharmacy staff will continue to ask for proof of exemption, and if that is not provided, will indicate on the prescription form that evidence has not been seen.

Further audits on samples of prescriptions are planned on a quarterly basis to deter fraudulent claims and to ensure taxpayer money is spent on providing frontline health services. 

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