Free NHS benefits
If you are getting one of the following means tested benefits, then you can get full help with NHS health costs:
- Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not contribution based);
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit;
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance;
- Universal Credit. If you get Working Tax Credits, then you may be eligible for an NHS tax credit exemption certificate, which entitles you to full help with NHS health costs.
Help with NHS health costs can include:
- Free prescriptions
- Free dental treatment
- Free NHS eye tests to help pay for glasses or contact lenses
- Free wigs and fabric supports
- Reimbursement of fares to hospital for you or your child (you can also claim for the fares of a companion who needs to travel with you for medical reasons).
If you are aged 60 and over, then you can get free prescriptions and NHS eye tests regardless of your income.
If you do not receive one of the qualifying benefits listed above but have a low income, then you may be able to get ‘full’ or ‘partial’ help towards NHS health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). You can apply for the scheme if your savings, investments or property (not counting the place where you live) do not exceed the capital limit.
In England, this is:
- £23,250 for people who live permanently in a care home
- £16,000 for everyone else;
Depending on your individual circumstances, you will either receive ‘full help’ (through an HC2 certificate) or ‘partial help’ (through an HC3 certificate). To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete an HC1 form, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices and most NHS hospitals. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0300 123 0849.
If you need an assistance in making your claim or have questions about the Low Income Scheme, then you can contact an adviser on 0300 330 1343.
If you need frequent prescriptions but do not qualify to get them free of charge, you can buy a prepayment certificate which will save you money.
You can get a prepayment certificate which lasts for either 3 or 12 months. You can pay for the 12 month certificate by direct debit, in 10 equal monthly instalments.
Before buying a prepayment certificate, check that you’re not entitled to free prescriptions, as it can be difficult to get a refund once you have paid for your certificate. You can apply online or call 0300 330 1341.