The consultation seeks views from the public, healthcare organisations and staff on options for changing the age at which people in England become eligible for free prescriptions.
The proposal is to raise the current age of exemption from 60 to 66 years of age to align with the State Pension age. One option outlined in the consultation is that there would be a grace period at the point of any change allowing people aged 60 to 65 to continue to receive free prescriptions.
The consultation does not propose any other changes to existing exemptions from charges, which remain in place for a range of ages and vulnerable groups or those on low incomes.
According to the DHSC, between 2015 to 2016 and 2019 to 2020, prescription charges generated over £2.8 billion for the NHS. It is estimated this change could bring in up to £300 million more for the NHS by 2026 to 2027.
Currently, people receive free prescriptions when they turn 60 in England. This has not changed since 1974 for women, and 1995 for men. The State Pension age in England is currently 66 and is planned to increase further for men and women to 68 between 2037 and 2039. The upper age exemption for free prescriptions used to align with the State Pension age, but that link has been lost over the years.
The consultation will run for 8 weeks until Thursday 26 August.