Help with health costs

Bills can mount up when your child is having treatment for cancer, especially if you've had to take unpaid leave or reduce your hours. However, there is help available when it comes to meeting certain health costs.

Help with health costs

What health costs are covered?

Regardless of your income, there are no prescription charges for anyone who is having treatment for cancer or due to the effects of cancer.

There are also a range of health-related costs that you and your family may be able to get help with (where these are not already free of charge where a medical exemption certificate is issued). These include:

  • prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment, including check-ups
  • sight tests, including mobile sight tests
  • glasses or contact lenses
  • travel to receive NHS treatment
  • wigs and fabric supports, for example abdominal and spinal supports.

Qualifying for support

To receive help with your health costs it is likely that you will be on a low income and receiving certain benefits. Many of these benefits (such as Income Support and Tax Credits) are being replaced with the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) between 2013 and 2022. This means you will receive a new single monthly benefit instead. You can read about Universal Credit on our means-tested benefits page.

You may also be entitled to help with other health costs, such as free dental treatment, free wigs and fabric supports, if:

  • you get UC and have no earnings of £435 or less during the most recent assessment period
  • you get UC, which includes an element for a child and/or limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity (see our factsheet on Employment and Support Allowance), or earnings of £935 or less during the most recent assessment period.

NHS Low Income Scheme

If you're on a low income you may also be able to get help through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). You can apply for this provided you don't have savings of more than £16,000 (or £23,250 for anyone who lives permanently in a care home).

Certificates and application forms

You will come across the following forms before receiving help with health costs: HC1 form, HC2 ('full help') certificate and HC3 ('partial help') certificate. To claim a full refund of other NHS charges (except prescription charges) including dental treatment, sight test, travel costs, NHS wig or fabric supports, you will need to fill in form HC5.

In order to apply for help with health costs you will first need to fill out an HC1 form. This form is available from Jobcentre Plus offices, NHS hospitals, doctors, dentists or opticians. You can also get hold of the forms above by calling 0300 123 0849.

If you are on a qualifying benefit you just need to take proof of this to your hospital.

Non-UK residents

If you are visiting the UK then you may not be exempt from charges and will instead have to pay for any NHS treatment you have. Find out more by visiting the NHS Choices website.

Updated July 2016, next review due 2017.