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Help with health costs

Most NHS services are free, however there are charges for some things. If you are aged over 60 years old, in receipt of certain benefits, or are on a low income, you may be entitled to free treatment or help with some of these health costs, including prescriptions.

What help is available?

NHS treatment is usually free, but there is a cost for some services.

If you are under 19, over 60, receiving benefits, pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months, have a certain medical condition or if you get a war pension you may be able to get help with health costs such as:

  • NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment
  • sight tests, glasses or contact lenses
  • travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment
  • wigs and fabric supports, such as abdominal and spinal supports

You may be eligible for help with health costs owing to your circumstances. You may have a long term health condition that requires regular medication or you may be pregnant or in receipt of cancer treatment.  Long term health conditions that are eligible are:

  • cancer and  treatment
  • epilepsy that needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability that means you can’t go out without the help of another person
  • a permanent fistula which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance, for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy
  • Diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Myxoedema, for example, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement
  • Hypoparathyroidism which means your parathyroid glands produce too little parathyroid hormone
  • Hypoadrenalism, where specific substitution therapy is essential, for example, Addison’s Disease
  • Myasthenia gravis, Where an autoimmune condition affects the nerves and muscles

Visit for more information and use the NHS Business Services Authority eligibility checker to find out if you need to pay or can receive reduced costs.

NHS continuing healthcare

The rules for help with health costs if you receive Universal Credit can be found on NHS

NHS Continuing Health Care may be provided in different settings including your home or a care home. A team of healthcare professionals (a “multidisciplinary team”) will assess your needs. This could be done before a hospital discharge or when carrying out a care and support assessment. The whole health and care team will look at all your care needs and relate them to:

  • what help you need
  • how complex your needs are
  • how intense or severe your needs can be
  • how unpredictable they are, including any risks to your health if the right care isn’t provided at the right time

Your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare depends on your assessed needs and not on any particular diagnosis or health condition. If your needs change then your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare may change.

Other help with costs

Sometimes you may find that your needs are met by the local Council and the NHS and this is called a “joint package of care”.

If you’re entitled to help with health costs you can get:

  • free NHS prescriptions
  • free dental treatment
  • free wigs and fabric supports
  • free sight tests and help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses
  • help with travel costs for NHS treatment

There is a more general advice page about eligibility for healthcare costs, including prescriptions on NHS online.

Financial help as a carer

As a carer you may be entitled to help with certain health care costs for the person you look after.

To be assessed for NHS Continuing Health Care a qualified healthcare nurse assessor would complete a checklist tool. This could be done before a hospital discharge or when carrying out a care and support assessment.

There is a more general advice page about eligibility for healthcare costs including prescriptions on NHS online

Other Useful Information

Help with health costs Age UK’s factsheet.

You may find it useful to buy an NHS prescription prepayment certificate.

Last updated: October 22, 2020

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