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Help with health costs

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single system of means tested support for people of working-age in and out of work. Universal Credit (UC) was first introduced in 2013 by the Department of Work and Pensions and is slowly being rolled out to include more people. 

UC will replace some existing means-tested benefits, including income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.

During the early stages of UC, all those who received it were automatically entitled to help with health costs, but now that numbers are increasing, revised arrangements have been put in place.

Help with health costs provides:

From November 1 2015, you are entitled to help with health costs if:

  • you get Universal Credit and had no earnings or net earnings up to £435 during the most recent assessment period
  • you get Universal Credit which includes an element for a child and/or limited capability for work or limited capability for work related activity, and had no earnings or net earnings up to £935 during the most recent assessment period

Your assessment period will run for a calendar month from the date of your claim for Universal Credit (which will be shown on your award notice), and between the same dates each month after that.

Note: You need to make sure you are claiming correctly before you sign any of the NHS forms. Checks are made on these forms and patients found to have wrongly claimed may have to pay a penalty charge, as well as the charge due. Read the section about paying NHS charges.

When you claim help with health costs because you receive Universal Credit you will be asked to show your award notice to support your claim. You should think about whether your earnings are still within the threshold limits before you claim.

If you cannot get help with health costs through Universal Credit look at the other pages in this section to find out if any of the other eligibility criteria apply to you.

How to claim help with health costs if you get Universal Credit

You can claim help with health costs in the same way as those getting other qualifying benefits, such as income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. You will need to sign the NHS form to say you do not have to pay. This could be a prescription form given to you by your doctor, or a dental treatment form given to you by your dentist's receptionist.

If you claim exemption, the healthcare professional will ask to see your Universal Credit award notice to support your claim.

Most forms will not yet have a box for Universal Credit. If this is the case, you should tick the box for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance.

Anyone who was in receipt of Universal Credit up until October 31 2015 was entitled to help with health costs. If you were entitled to Universal Credit before October 31 2015 and paid NHS charges for relevant health costs or incurred costs relating to a sight test, glasses, contact lenses or travel as described above, you may be able to claim a refund of those costs. For more information about claiming Universal Credit visit GOV.UK.


The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Editor NHS Choices said on 28 November 2014

If you want answers about help with health costs, join the Help with Health Costs Facebook page where the NHS Business Services Authority will respond to help with health costs questions Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm;

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DentalSoftwareSupplier said on 30 October 2014

As we are now approaching the end of October 2014 would you be able to confirm whether the arrangement described above is now being extended or is due to be replaced and the claim forms updated.

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susan4567 said on 12 April 2013

I'm confused.

If UC is also replacing tax credits , housing benefit etc then surely you are allowing millions of extra people who move on to UC to get free health costs, when they currently do not.

You are merging a group who currently receive free health costs ( jsa ib, ESA ib etc) with a group who do not ( housing ben, wtc, )

This will cost millions for the government surely ?

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Page last reviewed: 29/10/2015

Next review due: 29/10/2017

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 and HC1 (SC) forms

For all other queries call 0300 330 1343 

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