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. 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  if you do not pay within 28 days of the date that the penalty notice is sent.

Maternity exemption certificate

Maternity exemption certificate entitles you to free NHS prescription, NHS dental treatment and other health costs while you're pregnant. 

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. If they make an online application, you can get your certificate by email as soon as they have completed the application. Otherwise, you'll get a paper certificate in the post within 10 working days after your application is received by NHS. 

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. 

Other ways of getting the HC1 form


You can apply online for the NHS Low Income Scheme. You can also download and print off an HC1 form as well as order one to be posted to you, find more information on the NHS Low Income Scheme webpage to do this.


You can apply online for the NHS Low Income Scheme. You can download and print off an HC1 using the same link.

A form can also be obtained at pharmacies, GP practices, Citizens Advice Scotland offices and Job Centre Plus offices.


You can apply online for the NHS Low Income Scheme. You can download and print off an HC1W form or order one by email on the Welsh Government website. You can also get a HC1W form by calling the publications order line on 0345 603 1108.

Jobcentre Plus offices, NHS hospitals, dentists and opticians may also stock them.

Need help making your claim?

If you need help making your claim, call NHS Low Income Scheme Customer Contact Team on: 0300 330 1343.

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.

England and Wales: You can download copies on the NHS Business Services website.

Scotland: You can download copies on the Scottish Government website.

Updated: December 2022


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