Help with health costs

5 mins read

It is possible to qualify for help with health costs such as prescriptions, vouchers for glasses, dental treatment and reasonable travel costs to hospital for treatment.

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You should automatically be entitled to help with these costs if you receive one of the following benefits:

If you get Universal Credit, whether you qualify automatically for help with NHS costs will depend on whether you have earnings and if so the amount. You will not qualify automatically as a Universal Credit claimant if:

A dependent child whose parent meets any of the tests above is also entitled to help automatically.

If you don’t qualify for help as someone getting one of the benefits mentioned above, you may still be entitled to help automatically in certain circumstances.

Prescription charges

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England they are free if you are aged under 16, under 19 and in full time education, aged 60, are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months. They are also free to patients who have specified conditions.

Some under 20s can also get free prescriptions if they are classed as the dependant of someone receiving certain means-tested benefits.

Find out more about prescription charges on the NHS website.

Sight tests and glasses

Sight tests are free in Scotland. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales,, they are free if you are:

You will get free vouchers for glasses or contact lenses if are aged under 16, or are under 19 and in full-time education. You also qualify regardless of age if you need complex or powerful glasses.

Free NHS dental treatment

In Scotland dental examinations (but not treatment) are free to everyone. Dental examinations are free in Wales if you are aged under 25 or over 60.

In England you will qualify for free dental treatment if you are aged under 18, or under 19 and in full time non-advanced education, or if you are pregnant or have given birth in the last year or in certain circumstances if you are a hospital dentist service patient.

Travel to hospital for treatment

If you’re referred to hospital or other NHS premises for treatment or tests, you may be able to get help with reasonable travel costs. You can claim for the travel costs of a carer or escort as long as your health professional confirms that this is medically necessary. You may qualify for help automatically if you get any of the benefits mentioned above or by applying under the NHS low Income Scheme – see below.

Normally the NHS will only refund the cheapest, most appropriate mode of transport. This usually means public transport. If you used your car and your claim is approved, you will be reimbursed for the cost of fuel at a mileage rate calculated by the local Integrated Care Board. You can also claim any unavoidable parking or toll charges.

If you plan to use a taxi you should discuss this in advance with the hospital or Integrated Care Board.

Normally you are expected to pay for your own travel and claim back the costs within three months, but in some cases you may be able to get an advance payment. Remember to hold onto your receipts as you will need this, along with proof of your benefit entitlement, to claim back your expenses from the cashier at the hospital or clinic you attend. More information about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme is available on the NHS website.

This scheme only covers travel to hospital for treatment. It does not help with travel to visit someone else. If you need help with the costs of travel to hospital as a visitor, you will need to apply to charitable trusts for help.

NHS Low Income scheme

If you do not qualify for help with NHS costs automatically under the rules set out above, you may be able to get some help with NHS costs via the NHS low income scheme. You can only apply if your capital is no more than £16,000. Whether you get help and the amount will depend on your income and your outgoings. Complete an HC1 form online in order to apply.