Health costs support

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.

Health costs support

Which costs are free?

There are no prescription charges for anyone who is having treatment for cancer or due to the effects of cancer. 

There is also a range of health-related costs that you may be able to get help with due to your child's age or their medical exemption certificate. Ask your doctor for an application form. These include:

  • 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 such as abdominal and spinal supports.

If you are on a low income

You can also receive full help with health costs if you:

  • get Income Support
  • get income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • get income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • get Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • are named on or entitled to a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you don't have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both) and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • get Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you don't receive the above but have difficulty in meeting your health costs, you may be able to get help under the NHS Low Income Scheme.

You can apply using the HC1 form. 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.

Where next?

Updated July 2017, next review due 2018.