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Help with health costs

Most Health Service (HS) treatment is free, although there can be charges for some things. Depending on your circumstances, you might get help with the cost of some treatment, services and items.

Who can get help with health costs

All prescriptions dispensed in Northern Ireland are free of charge for everyone. This includes medication, wigs and surgical appliances. You do not need to do anything to qualify for free prescriptions as everyone is automatically entitled.

If you are in one of the groups below, you may also be entitled to the following:

  • free HS dental treatment
  • free sight tests
  • glasses or contact lenses
  • help with the costs of travel for treatment on referral by a doctor or dentist

Group 1

You may be entitled to some or all of the above because of your age (young or old), a medical condition or because you get a War Disablement Pension or hold a War Pension exemption certificate.

Group 2

You are entitled to all of the above, if you and/or your partner get:

  • Working Tax Credit with Child Tax Credit and your income is £15,276 per year or less
  • Working Tax Credit with a disability element and your income is £15,276 per year or less
  • Child Tax Credit and you are not eligible for Working Tax Credit, and your income is £15,276 per year or less
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

Group 3

If you are on a low income and do not fit into Groups 1 or 2, you may be able to get help with your health costs by making a claim under the Health Service Low Income Scheme.

More information on help with health costs

The booklet HC11 'Help with health costs' is a useful and detailed source of information. It is available from Social Security/Jobs & Benefits offices or hospitals. Your local doctor, dentist, pharmacist and optician might also have a copy.

How to claim

Group 1 and group 2

To get help if you are in Groups 1 or 2, fill in the back of your prescription form, or tell your dentist or optician when you go for dental or optical treatment. If you are claiming help with healthcare travel costs or for wigs and fabric supports, tell the hospital and show proof of entitlement.

Group 3

If you are in Group 3 and want to claim on low income grounds, or before your benefit claim is settled, you need to fill in the claim form HC1 'Help with help costs'. It is available from Social Security/Jobs & Benefits offices or hospitals. Your local doctor, dentist, pharmacist and optician might also have a copy.

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