Health costs

You may be able to get help with health costs when you have cancer. Find out more about support for things like prescriptions, wigs, and dental treatment.

Help with prescriptions

The help you can get to pay for prescriptions is different across the UK.

In England, prescriptions are free for people with cancer. If you need prescriptions for anything related to cancer or its effects, you can apply for a medical exemption certificate. You need to collect an FP92A form from your GP surgery. This lasts for 5 years and can be renewed if you are still eligible.

In England, prescriptions are free for people with cancer. If you need prescriptions for anything related to cancer or its effects, you can apply for a medical exemption certificate. You need to collect an FP92A form from your GP surgery. This lasts for 5 years and can be renewed if you are still eligible.

In England, if you are a carer or someone who is not having cancer-related treatment, you can get free prescriptions in some situations. To find out more visit the NHS website.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for everyone.

Prescriptions pre-payment certificates in England

If you live in England and do not qualify for free prescriptions, you may want to buy a prescription pre-payment certificate for 3 months or a year. It will save you money if you need:

  • more than 3 prescriptions in 3 months
  • more than 11 prescriptions in a year.

You can buy the certificate online from gov.uk/get-a-ppc Or you can buy it over the phone using a credit or debit card. Call the NHS Business Services Authority on 0300 330 1341. They can send your certificate details by email.

You will need to show the pharmacist your prescription pre-payment certificate when you collect your prescription.

Help with wigs and fabric supports

The help you can get to pay for wigs and fabric supports is different across the UK.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, wigs and fabric supports are free for everyone. There are special arrangements for patients who are registered with GPs in Wales but have treatment in England.

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

  • you are aged under 16
  • you are aged 16-18 and are in full-time education
  • you get a valid war pension and need the items for your war injury
  • you are a hospital inpatient when the wig or fabric support is given to you
  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you are entitled to, or named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (such as an HC2 certificate).

If you are named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (an HC3 certificate), you may get some help. We have more information about the NHS Low Income Scheme below.

You may also qualify if you or your partner get:

You are also eligible if you are under the age of 20 and the dependent of someone getting one of the benefits listed above.

If you are entitled to a free wig or fabric support, you will need to tell the person who fits it. You will need to show proof that you qualify. For example, this could be the letter showing which benefits you get.

If you do not qualify for free wigs or fabric supports, you may be able to reclaim the VAT on these items. Contact the HMRC VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700 or use textphone 0300 200 3719. You can also visit gov.uk

Help with the cost of dental care

Dental examinations

Help with the cost of dental care is different across the UK.

  • In England, there is a cost for NHS dental examinations. You may qualify for a free examination if you meet one or more criteria. We have more information about the criteria for free dental treatment and examinations below.
  • In Scotland, NHS dental examinations are free for everyone.
  • In Wales, you can get free NHS dental examinations if you are aged under 25 or over 60.
  • In Northern Ireland, there can be a charge for Health Service dental examinations. Visit nidirect.gov.uk for more information.

Dental treatment

In England, Scotland and Wales, you may qualify for free NHS dental treatment and dentures. In England, this includes your examination. You need to meet one or more of the criteria listed here when the dental treatment starts:

  • You are aged under 18
  • You are aged under 19 and are in full-time education
  • You are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months. You need a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx). Speak to your doctor, midwife or health visitor
  • You are being treated in an NHS hospital and a hospital dentist carries out the treatment (but you may have to pay for any dentures or bridges)
  • You receive a valid war pension and need treatment for your war injury
  • You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2 certificate).

You may also qualify if you or your partner get:

You are also eligible if you are under the age of 20 and are the dependent of someone getting one of the benefits above.

You will need to show your dentist proof that you qualify. For example, this could be the letter showing which benefits you get.

In Northern Ireland, you may be entitled to free Health Service dental treatment if you are on a low income or meet other criteria. Visit nidirect.gov.uk for information on help with health care costs.

Help with eye treatment

Help with the cost of sight tests is different across the UK.

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 meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are aged under 16.
  • You are aged under 19 and are in full-time education.
  • You are aged 60 or over.
  • You are registered blind or are partially sighted.
  • You have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma.
  • You are aged 40 or over and are the parent, brother, sister or child of someone with glaucoma
  • You are a prisoner on leave from prison
  • Your sight test is carried out through the hospital eye department
  • You receive a valid war pension and have eyesight issues due to your war injury
  • You have a low income and are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2 certificate).
  • You need complex or powerful lenses.
  • You get Income Support, the guarantee element of Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • You get Universal Credit and meet certain criteria.
  • You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

If you are named on a valid NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (an HC3 certificate), you may get a reduced cost sight test. We have more information about the NHS Low Income Scheme.

You can ask about a home visit if you need help getting to your appointment because of your illness.

If you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you qualify for vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you meet one of the following criteria:

You have a low income and are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2 certificate) You may get a voucher if you are named on a valid NHS HC3 certificate for partial help with health costs.

The vouchers can be used with any optician. You will need to show proof that you qualify. For example, you could bring any letters showing which benefits you get.

NHS Low Income Scheme

This scheme helps people on a low income to afford their health costs. You do not have to be receiving benefits to access this scheme. It is run by the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales and by the Health Service in Northern Ireland.

The scheme includes help with:

  • prescriptions
  • dental treatment
  • wigs and fabric supports
  • sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • travel to receive treatment.

You cannot qualify if you (or your partner if you have one) have more than £16,000 in savings, not including the place where you live. If you live permanently in a care home, the savings limit is:

  • £23,250 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • £24,000 in Wales.

How to claim the NHS Low Income Scheme

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, call 0300 330 1343 and ask for an HC1 form, or visit nhsbsa.nhs.uk
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, download the HC1 form from nidirect.gov.uk If you have reached State Pension age, the Pension Service will deal with your claim. Call them on 0800 587 0892.

You may also be able to get an HC1 form from your local hospital, Jobcentre Plus, Jobs and Benefits office GP, dentist, pharmacist, optician or Citizens Advice.

If you are over 60, do not live with a partner and your only income is from a pension, you may be able to apply online.

If you have already paid the healthcare costs, you can claim a refund using an HC5 form. You must apply within 3 months. You must have the relevant receipt, such as an FP57 form for prescriptions.

Help with home adaptations equipment and services

Equipment to help you at home

You may need special equipment or aids to help you manage at home. For example, you may need a raised toilet seat or hand rails. If your doctor or nurse agree that you need equipment, they can arrange for this to be provided. Or they can refer you to a social worker. You can also contact your local social services or social work department directly. They can arrange for a social worker or occupational therapist to assess your needs. They may be able to supply what you need for free.

You can also get general advice and information about all types of equipment from the Disabled Living Foundation.

VAT exempt goods and services

If you have a long-term illness or are registered disabled, you do not have to pay VAT on certain products. These are products that are designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. For example, you may not have to pay VAT on items to help your mobility.

VAT-exempt goods and services include:

  • cars
  • adjustable beds
  • stair lifts
  • wheelchairs
  • medical appliances to help with severe injuries
  • alarms
  • Braille paper or low-vision aids (but not glasses or contact lenses)
  • building work such as widening doors or installing ramps, lifts or toilets.

For more information, visit gov.uk or call 0300 200 3700.

Nursing home charges

People who pay for their own nursing home charges should check whether they are entitled to financial help. Speak to your healthcare professional or call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.

For example, you may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare. Continuing healthcare offers free care (funded by the NHS) for people who need a lot of ongoing complex care. Ask a health or social care professional how you can apply for this. Before choosing a care home, you may want to find out more about it.