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Friday, 5 October 2012

Health costs

Most National Health Service (NHS) treatment is free but there can be charges for some things. You may be able to get help with NHS health costs if for example you're on a low income.

What is covered

You may be able to get help with health costs like:

  • NHS prescription charges (where these are not free of charge)
  • NHS dental treatment, including check-ups (where these are not free of charge)
  • sight tests (where these are not free of charge)
  • vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses
  • travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant or on referral by a doctor or dentist
  • wigs and fabric supports, such as abdominal and spinal supports (where these are not free of charge)

Who is eligible

You may get help with the cost of charges if at least one of the following applies.

You are getting or are included in an award of:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, or Working Tax Credit with a disability or severe disability element

You may also get help with the cost of charges if:

  • you are named on a valid NHS Exemption Certificate (HC2 for full help, HC3 for partial help with the cost excluding prescriptions)
  • you're 60 or over (for NHS prescriptions and NHS sight tests)
  • you're under 16, under 18 for NHS dental treatment
  • you're under 19 and still in full-time education
  • you suffer from a listed medical condition (for free NHS prescriptions only), for more information contact the Health Cost advice line on 0845 850 1166
  • you have a maternity exemption certificate (for NHS dental treatment and NHS prescription charges)
  • you get a war or service disablement pension or need prescriptions or NHS treatment for your accepted disability
  • you're a prisoner in England

Help if you're on a low income

NHS Low Income Scheme

If none of the above apply and you're on a low income you may be able to get help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

The amount of help you get will depend on the amount of income you have. You may not be entitled to any help if your savings are above the limits shown below.

You can't get help if:

  • you live permanently in a care home and have £23,250 in property, savings or other money
  • you, or your partner or civil partner together have £16,000 in property (excluding the place where you live), savings or other money

How to claim

You'll need to complete form HC1 from a Jobcentre Plus office or NHS hospital. You may also be able to get an HC1 from your doctor, dentist or optician.

You can also get an HC1 form by contacting the Health Cost advice line on 0845 850 1166 or, if you live in Scotland, by phoning 0131 275 6386.

What happens if your circumstances change

Your entitlement to health cost benefits may stop if your circumstances change, for example you:

  • reach age 19
  • no longer get any of the benefits listed, your entitlement to health cost benefits may stop.

Please contact the Health Cost advice line on 0845 850 1166 to check your entitlement.

If you need lots of prescriptions

You may find it cheaper to buy a Prepayment Certificate (PPC). This is if you will have to pay for four or more prescription items in three months, or more than 14 items in 12 months.

To get more information, to apply or check the cost of a PPC please visit the NHS Business Services Authority website. Or contact the PPC advice line on 0845 850 0030.

PPCs are not available in Scotland.

What else you need to know

If you want more information about NHS charges in England, Scotland and Wales, download a booklet HC11 from the Department of Health website.  If you live in Scotland, you can download the documents HCS1 and HCS2 from the Scottish Government Website.

If you need more advice about getting help with health costs, contact the Health Cost advice line on 0845 850 1166. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

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