NHS Low Income Scheme

Medical treatment is free in the National Health Service but there are some charges and costs. The Low Income Scheme is to help with these costs.

There are charges for prescriptions, wigs and fabric supports (only in England), dentistry, sight tests, glasses and contact lenses. It often costs money to travel to a hospital.

People who get means tested benefits mostly are exempt from these charges. People who have to pay can get a certificate. An HC2 means they dont have to pay anything. An HC3 means they get some help.

People who have more than £16,000 (£23,250 for people who live in a care home) cannot get a certificate.

People who have a certificate, or are exempt from charges, can claim the cost of their travel to a hospital if they are sent there by a doctor. They normally claim at the hospital. They can get the cost of someone to come with them if they cannot travel alone. They can claim the cost of coming by car or taxi if they need one. They can claim a refund for what they paid for up to 3 months.[1]Healthwatch England asked 2000 people in December 2022 about health costs. 10% said the increased cost of living meant they did not get their prescription. 15% did not go to the dentist. [2]


  1. "Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)". nhs.uk. 2020-11-09. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  2. January 2023, News-9. "Cost of living: People are increasingly avoiding NHS appointments and prescriptions". www.healthwatch.co.uk. Retrieved 2023-01-31.