Help with health costs

Basics about help with NHS charges

Entitlement to help with health costs (NHS prescription and dental charges, optical and hospital travel costs) is based on the principle that those who can afford to contribute should do so, while those who are likely to have difficulty in paying should be protected.

Who can get help?

People can get help on age or medical grounds or by being in receipt of one of the exempting benefits or tax credits (see leaflet HC11 for more information).

Low income?

People who have to pay NHS charges may be able to get help under the NHS Low Income Scheme. The amount of help is based on a comparison between a person’s income and requirements at the time that a claim is made or a charge was paid.

How do I make a low income claim?

You need to complete form HC1/ You must obtain a hard copy. These are available from the DH Publications Orderline on 0800 555 777 (along with a pre-paid return envelope). Jobcentre Plus offices and our Patient Services Office also have HC1s available. Some GPs, dentists, opticians might also have them.

When you have filled in the HC1 you should send it to:

Patient Services
Sandyford House
Newcastle upon Tyne

Form HC1 should be used to claim help with paying health costs for:

  • NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports
  • Sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • Travel  for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant

You might be able to get them free, or get help with paying for them to claim help for:

  • you
  • your partner
  • your children

You don’t have to wait until you need help with paying health costs.

Who cannot get help?

You cannot get help if you or your partner have more than:

  • £8,000 in property, savings or any other money (don’t count the place where you live)
  • £16,000 in property, savings or any other money if you and/or your partner are 60 or over (don’t count the place where you live)
    Note – if you have a partner, their property, savings or any other money is counted with yours
  • £23,250 in property, savings or any other money if you live permanently in a residential care home or nursing home

You are already entitled to full help with health costs if you or your partner are getting:

  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

or if

  • you are named on Tax Credit NHS Exemption Certificate

But, if you paid any health costs before you were getting any of these benefits or credits, read the back cover of the form when you get it to see if you can claim your money back.

More detailed information