"Just asthma"

I do so agree about better education for a life threatening disease. The time I have been in A&E at 4am thinking I won't see breakfast time. I have had asthma most of my life but treated for bronchitis as I coughed not wheezed, when it was determined as asthma and was told it always had been I was 43. I had to pay the same as everyone else for my prescriptions I just accepted this but on reflection all other high risk chronic diseases get them free so is it that it's not taken seriously by the NHS leading to poor education by the public. This does not concern me now as I am retired but I paid for 17 years for meds that I needed to stay alive. Something wrong somewhere?

9 Replies

  • I cannot remember who but there was a petition on the site a few months ago about this very topic. I received free prescriptions as t have thyroid problems and they are classed as life threatening but in my humble opinion asthma is also life threatening so I just do not understand the reasoning at all .

  • Hi Starveycat, it's over thirty years since I first had asthma meds my doctor at the time said he thought they should be free. I had other meds and so paid £ 85 per year which covered everything plus any extras I may have needed. I would not have known about this but for my doctor telling me if you had 5 or more items you were eligible for this scheme. I don't know if there is still the same or a similar scheme today. As I have been retired for 14 years I get them free anyway. I lived in Spain for many years and my doctor would prescribe something and then tell you it was cheaper to buy it over the counter this was after the new law where you had to pay a percentage of prescriptions even when retired. We were covered by the NHS but this law was for the Spanish and we should have been exempt but they said the Spanish had to pay so we had to as well.they got paid twice once by us and once by the NHS. When we left they were still fighting it out.

  • The problem with asthma medication being free is that doing so would cause an unsustainable financial strain on an already cash strapped NHS. There are around five million asthmatics in the UK. My (moderate) asthma - which I've had since I was three and I'm now 54 - is well controlled, I've never smoked and I've never been overweight, but in an average year I will still need over twenty prescriptions per year (not all asthma related); there are plenty of asthmatics out there who will need rather more than that.

    There is a pre-payment certificate, which may be the 'scheme' you mention. You can pay either on an annual basis (currently £104) or quarterly (£29.10) which is worth purchasing if an individual needs thirteen prescriptions or more a year (for the annual fee) or four in a quarter (for the quarterly fee - great for sufferers of seasonal rhinitis.

    I think asthma is taken seriously by the NHS. I agree, however, that there is an issue with how it is perceived by the general public. The problem, I think, is that asthma is so prevalent these days that there is a perception amongst the general public that this somehow means it's not serious. A relatively small percentage of asthmatics are severe, or brittle (other than those I've encountered in the forum, I've never met one), so the vast majority of the public have probably never witnessed a full blown asthma attack and so are unaware of just how dangerous it can be. It's not helped by the fact that even some asthmatics are not aware of the danger. Not too long ago we needed a repair job on our fridge. During a conversation with the young man who came out to carry out the work, he admitted that he used a blue ventolin inhaler but he hardly ever had it on him when he was working. He was flabbergasted when I told him that asthma killed three people every day in the UK. He just didn't know. If even some asthmatics don't know, it's hardly surprising that many a non asthmatics do not.

  • I do understand exactly what you are saying and like you I have never smoked have never been overweight and am teetotal. My asthma is well controlled now but that has not always been the case. There are many things on the NHS that I do think should not be free and I think that asthma meds should not nessesarily be free for all it should depend on the severity of the individual. I can't knock the NHS it has treated me very well. I have other problems also and have had superb treatment both here and in Spain. Hopefully more information will be made available to educate the puplic

    Before too long.

  • I agree with you that there are some things on the NHS that should not be free, but I think going down the path of free medication for some asthmatics and not others is a dangerous route to take. To begin with where do you draw the line between asthmatics who are severe enough to get free medication, and those who are not - particularly tough for those who might be 'borderline' cases. Then of course you have the problem that asthma status is not constant, it can change. My own son, for example, had really quite bad asthma when he was a child; now, as an adult, he's quite mild, but that could change again and he could become much worse in later life.

  • Again I agree with you. It. Would be difficult to draw a line. I am also diabetic and medication is free for all diabetics. Some take one pill others take a great deal more including insulin. It is a rocky road on which we can only state our own opinions and leave it to the powers that be. You can't please everyone all the time and I am glad not to be in the position of having to try to do so.

  • Well they manage to make all prescriptions free in Wales... if asthmatics can afford the financial burden for prescription charges (we don't pay the cost of meds -- I lived in Ireland for a while where they do and it was about £50 for a steroid inhaler lasting a month or so, £5 for blue inhaler, hardly anything for steroid tablets (cheaper than prescription charge) plus doctor's fees) then society as a whole can afford that burden spread out through income tax. That is socialised healthcare and my opinion is that it is efficient and fair (the other extreme is as in the US where my relatives faced enormous debt to pay for my young cousin's cancer treatment).

    Asthmatics miss out on free meds in Ireland too (available for some conditions). Maybe because we are many people compared to other conditions? Maybe because someone who once wheezed and was given a blue inhaler would then get all meds free and that would be unfair on others who don't? I think with asthma the boundaries are a bit unclear as lots of people are given a blue inhaler at some point.

    As I now pay prescription charges here in England (having an okay income and out of my maternity exemption) I have bought one of those prepaid cards for just over £100 for the year. Otherwise it adds up really fast.

  • When I had the prepaid certificate it was £85 a year. I don't think I could have managed without it. My husband and I both worked but there was not a lot to spare. I have three children from my first marriage and my husband had two they all lived with us. My husband also paid quite a large ammount into a private pension scheme which has paid dividends in making our retirement worry free and we don't need benefits. It did make money tight for us but we managed but the meds I needed would have been a real strain. I do feel that they could work out a fair scheme as to who gets free asthma meds but there would always be a section who would say it's not fair. Plus there would always be some people who would not qualify and would not pay for meds and then end up being much sicker. One day someone will come up with all the answers but I think it will be a very long time before they do.

  • I think it should be free, if you are taking a high strength preventer, maybe that would work. Unless of course, the prescribers started over prescribing. If that makes sense.

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