Health costs support

It’s good to know that there is financial help available for meeting certain health costs when you have cancer. 

Health costs support


There are no prescription charges for anyone who is having treatment for cancer. Ask your doctor or hospital for a medical exemption (MedEx) certificate application. This needs to be countersigned by your GP, consultant or doctor.

You can also apply for an exemption certificate for any treatment related to cancer or its effects. You need to collect form FP92A from your GP surgery or oncology clinic.

Wigs and fabric supports

In Wales and Northern Ireland, wigs and fabric supports are free for everyone.

In England and Scotland, you can qualify for free NHS wigs or fabric supports if: 

  • you are aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • you are a hospital inpatient when the wig or fabric support is supplied
  • your hospital covers the cost of wigs for outpatients having chemotherapy.

Dental check-ups and treatment

In Scotland, NHS dental examinations are free for everyone and you can get free check-ups in Wales if you are under 25.

In England, there is a cost for NHS dental examinations. You may qualify for a free examination if you:

  • you are aged under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • you are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months
  • you are an NHS hospital inpatient and the treatment is carried out by a hospital dentist.

In England, Scotland and Wales, you qualify for free NHS dental treatment if you meet one or more of the criteria listed above when the dental treatment starts.

In Northern Ireland, you may be entitled to free Health Service dental treatment if you are on a low income.

Sight tests and glasses

Sight tests are free for everyone in Scotland.

You qualify for free NHS sight tests in England and Wales, and Health Service sight tests in Northern Ireland, if:

  • you are aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • you are registered blind or are partially sighted
  • you have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • your sight test is carried out through the hospital eye department
  • you need complex or powerful lenses.

If you are aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education, or you need complex or powerful lenses, you can also get vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses.

If you are on a low income

If you are on a low income, you could get help with all of the above. Generally speaking, you will need to fall into one of the below criteria: 

  • your weekly income is low enough
  • you are included in an award of Income Support, the guarantee element of Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • you receive Universal Credit and meet certain criteria
  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax exemption certificate.

If you have difficulty in meeting your health costs and do not qualify for any other kind of help, you may be able to get help under the NHS Low Income Scheme.

The amount you get depends on your income and you will either be awarded a full help certificate (HC2) or a limited help certificate (HC3).

Certificates and application forms explained

HC1: Form for claiming health costs

You will need to fill out this form if you find it difficult to pay for health costs to get help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. 

You do not need to fill in this form if you or your partner is getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or are already named on an NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate. You are already entitled to full help with health costs.

Get an HC1 form.

HC2: Certificate for full help with health costs

If you apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme, you may be awarded a full help certificate or an HC2. This means you are entitled to:

  • free NHS prescriptions
  • free NHS dental treatment and check-ups
  • free NHS sight tests and help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses
  • free NHS wigs and fabric supports 
  • help with the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment.

HC3: Certificate for partial help with health costs

If you apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme and receive a limited health certificate (HC3), your certificate will tell you how much you could get towards the cost of: 

  • NHS dental treatment
  • NHS sight tests
  • travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports
  • vouchers for glasses or contact lenses.

HC5: Claiming a refund

If you paid for treatment before you applied for the NHS Low Income Scheme, you may be able to get your money back. This includes dental treatment, sight tests, travel costs, NHS wigs or fabric supports.

Refunds have to be claimed within three months of the date you paid.

Access HC5 refund forms. 

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.

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