Medical Costs and Household Budgets

Medical expenses refer to all healthcare related expenses within the household, which are not covered by health insurance. As per 2012 data, the average household spent £6.40 per week or nearly £339 every year on medical expenses.

Medical expenses in detail

Medical expenses refer to purchase of medicines, prescriptions, and healthcare products or spending on out-patient and in-patient services. Let's look at some of the typical medical expenses in detail.

NHS prescription: As of April 2014, the cost of an NHS prescription is £8.05 in England, but it is free in other parts of the UK. The prescription includes cost for the doctor and subsidised medication. Note that NHS prescription is free for people in England aged below 16 or above 60 and for young people aged 16 to 18 who are in full-time education and some others. People who regularly need NHS prescriptions can opt for a prepay certificate, which costs £29.10 for three months or £104.00 for a year.

Private prescriptions: Private prescriptions refer to expenses not covered under NHS, like treatments for hair loss, premature ejaculation and libido loss. These could also include costly contraceptives like Yasmin or the anti-malarial drug Malarone. Also, at times there could be a long waiting period before you get an appointment with an NHS doctor. In such cases, you will have to pay for private prescriptions along with fees for a private doctor. For example, Bupa centres charge £70 for 15 minutes and £128 for 30 minutes with a private GP.

Spectacles and lenses: NHS prescriptions do not cover the cost of eye care. There are a few people who are eligible for free NHS sight tests and optical vouchers. However, for those who are not eligible, NHS eye care vouchers cost in the range of £38.3 to £211.3.

For more details on NHS prescriptions, you should check the NHS website.

Tips on saving medical expenses:

  • Before buying private prescriptions, compare prices online on sites such as Boots, Asda, Superdrug, etc.
  • Some common medications could be cheaper to buy privately or over-the-counter rather than through an NHS prescription. For example, a 500 ml aqueous cream, used for relief from dry or chapped skin, costs £4.09 at Boots but will cost £8.05 under an NHS prescription.
  • The eye care voucher from NHS will cover the initial cost of lenses, but there may be additional costs for disposable lenses. In such cases, it is a good idea to compare lens prices on sites like Lenstore.

Medical expenses as part of the household budget:

Household medical expenses depend on the number of members in the household, their age, and how much of the expenses are covered by private medical insurance. You can save on these expenses by combining a suitable health insurance policy and by comparing prices before going for a new line of treatment.

Our household budget calculator will help you in calculating the share of medical expenses within your household budget.