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NHS in England - help with health costs

Paying contributions towards the cost of your NHS care

Patients are required to make a co-payment towards the cost of their:

The money raised helps to fund the NHS. For example, each year patient co-payments cover the salary costs of over 12,000 nurses.


Some patients do not have to pay these costs. If this is the case for you, the NHS will ask to see proof of your entitlement. This could be a Prescription Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC), benefit award notice or an exemption certificate. Find out if you are entitled to help with health costs.

Dishonestly claiming that you are exempt from charges is unlawful and unfair to the NHS. The NHS carries out checks to make sure people do not claim dishonestly. 

Patients found to have wrongly claimed to be exempt from charges may be prosecuted for an offence that can lead to a criminal record. They would have to pay the charge due, plus a penalty charge of up to £100.

What you should do before making a claim

1. You must check that you are entitled to claim an exemption from an NHS charge. For more information, read our pages on getting help with health costs. If you are entitled, make sure that any declarations you make are correct before you sign any of the NHS forms. 

2. If you are not sure about your entitlement to an exemption from an NHS charge, you should pay the charge first. Once you are sure about your entitlement, you can claim a refund, which is quick and easy.

3. If you are on a low income and find it difficult to pay the charge, you can apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme

4. If you pay a prescription charge and think you might want to claim a refund, you must ask for the refund form at the time you pay the charge, as the form is not available later.

Page last reviewed: 11/09/2014

Next review due: 11/09/2016

Important numbers

Phone 0300 330 1348 for the dental services help line

Phone 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme help line

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about PPCs.

Phone 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services help line

Phone 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates

Phone 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 or HC1 (SC) forms

For all other queries call 0300 330 1343