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Help with health costs - How do I make a claim for Help with health costs?

Find out more about how to get help with health costs.

How do I make a claim for Help with health costs?

  • If you qualify for free prescriptions, claim help by filling in the back of your prescription form

  • If you qualify for free dental care, sign the form they give you when you go for treatment

  • If you qualify for free sight tests, when you go for a sight test, tell the optician if you are entitled to a free NHS sight test and ask for Form GOS1 to apply for it

  • If you qualify for travel to hospital for treatment, when you go to hospital, tell them that you want to claim back the cost of your journey.

What documents will I need?

In most cases, you will need a national insurance number. You will usually need to show evidence of:

  • Your identity, and

  • Your income and savings or evidence that you are claiming certain benefits. Proof of entitlement to help with health costs

If you claim help with a health cost and you are unable prove that you are entitled, your claim will be checked and you may have to pay a penalty charge if it is found that you were not entitled to help.
The penalty charge will be five times the charge that you should have paid, up to a maximum of £100. If you fail to pay the penalty charge, the NHS can take action to recover the debt in court. The penalty charge will be increased by fifty per cent if you do not pay within 28 days of the date that the penalty notice is sent.

Maternity exemption certificate

Apply on form FW8 which you can get from doctors, midwives and health visitors. You must fill in parts 1 and 2 of the form and then ask your doctor, midwife or health visitor to confirm that the information you have given is correct. They then send the form off to the NHS and you should receive the certificate within 21 days.

NHS Low income scheme

For the NHS low income scheme, the amount of help you get depends on the amount of income you have and you might not get any help at all if you have more than £16,000 in savings.

To apply for either a full help certificate or a limited help certificate through the low income scheme, fill in form HC1, which is available from local benefit offices, NHS hospitals, dentists, opticians and pharmacists. Or you can get Form HC1 online.

If you need help making your claim, call their Customer Contact Team on: 0300 330 1343

You can also get a HC1 form in the following ways;

  • England, you can order an HC1 to be posted to you.
  • Scotland, you can download and print off an HC1.  A form can also be obtained at pharmacies, GP practices, Citizens Advice Scotland offices and Job Centre Plus offices.
  • Wales, you can get a HC1 Form by calling 0845 6031108 (select the option for health publications).  Jobcentre Plus offices, NHS hospitals, dentists and opticians may also stock them too

Prepayment certificates for prescriptions

In Wales and Scotland prescriptions are free. In England, there are a number of ways to buy a prepayment certificate which may make your prescriptions cheaper.

Further help

There is an NHS leaflet about health costs. You need to read the one for the country of the UK you live in. You can pick up a copy at your doctor's surgery, at the hospital, from the dentist or the optician. See also the Help with Health Costs page on the NHS Business Authority website

Northern Ireland: Help with health costs

Prescriptions are free in Northern Ireland. This includes medication, wigs and surgical appliances.

Some people may be entitled to help with other health costs because of age, their medical condition, benefits they are getting or because of a low income.

For more information, see the NI Direct website information on help with health costs in Northern Ireland


Updated June 2018

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