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               NHS Low income Scheme. Free                                                        Prescriptions

NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

If you have a low income, you may be able to get help with NHS costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). The scheme covers:

You can apply for the scheme as long as your savings, investments or property (not counting the place where you live) don’t exceed the capital limit. In England, the limit is:

Any help you're entitled to is also available to your partner and any dependent young people.

How to apply

Depending on your circumstances, you can receive "full help" (HC2 certificate) or "partial help" (HC3 certificate).

You will qualify for full help if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge. If your income exceeds this limit, you may be entitled to partial help. Your certificate will show how much you have to pay towards your health costs.The rules governing who is eligible are broadly the same as those for a means-tested benefit.

However, the assessment also takes into account council tax and housing costs, so you can get help with health costs even if your income is too high for a means-tested benefit. To apply for your certificate, you’ll need to complete an HC1 form and post it to the address provided on the form
You can order an HC1 form online or download it here (PDF 218kb). It may also be available from your local Jobcentre Plus office or your NHS hospital. Your doctor, dentist or optician may also be able to give you one. If you need help making your claim or you have questions about the LIS, call 0300 330 1343 to speak to an adviser.

They can also fill in the form for you and post it to you to sign and return it to them. For the answers to general questions about the Low Income Scheme, contact NHSBSA online or read Low Income Scheme FAQs. Certificates are usually valid for between six months and five years, depending on your circumstances.You don't need to apply if you or your partner:


  • 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

  • gets Universal Credit and meets the criteria

Universal Credit

If you’re getting Universal Credit, your entitlement to free NHS prescriptions depends on your earnings for the most recent assessment period. You’re entitled if your earnings during that period were:

  • £435 or less

  • £935 or less if your Universal Credit includes an element for either:

    • a child

    • limited capability for work

‘Most recent assessment period’ means the assessment period that ended immediately before the date you claim free NHS prescriptions. It runs for a calendar month.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, the earnings limit applies to the joint income of you and your partner.

If you meet these conditions, you're also entitled to:

free NHS prescriptions free NHS sight tests free NHS wigs and fabric supports help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses refunds of necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment

These benefits or tax credits already entitle you to full help with health costs. 0300 330 1343 Number to call

   ©A1 ESA/DLA/PIP Benefits Help and Support (UK only) 

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