Help with health costs

Most Health Service 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. If you're on a low income, you may be able to get help with health service and travel costs.

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
  • vouchers towards the cost of 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 claiming Universal Credit or 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.

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 'Claim for help with health and travel costs'. It can be downloaded below or is available from Social Security offices /Jobs & Benefits offices or hospitals. Your local doctor, dentist, pharmacist and optician might also have a copy.

When you have filled in the form, post it to or hand it in to your local Social Security offices /Jobs and Benefits office.

The date the claim form is received in a Social Security office/Jobs & Benefits office is the date the Department for Communities can consider payment from - not the date you downloaded the form.

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