Dentists and the NHS
If you qualify for help with dental costs, it is important that your dentist accepts NHS patients. Check this beforehand as many dentists do not accept NHS patients. You must tell the dentist you want NHS treatment when you make the appointment. You will have to sign a form you are given when you go for treatment and if you do not have to pay you put a cross in the appropriate box.
Who gets help with NHS dental charges?
You can get free NHS dental treatment:
- If you are aged under 18.
- If you are aged 18 in full-time education.
- If you are pregnant, or have had a baby in the 12 months before treatment starts.
- If you are an NHS in-patient and the treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist.
- If you are an NHS Hospital Dental Service out-patient (there may be a charge for dentures and bridges).
- If you (or your partner) gets one of the following:
- Income Support.
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.
- If you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
- If you are a war pensioner – if treatment is connected with the pensionable disability.
- If you are named on an HC2 (or HC3) certificate because of low income (see below).
Note in Wales you get free dental examination if:
- If you are aged under 25 on the day you are examined in Wales.
- If you are aged 60 or over on the day you are examined in Wales.
How can people on a low income apply for help?
Some people on a low income may qualify for help towards NHS dental charges. Your entitlement to help is based on your circumstances such as your level of income, savings, etc. You will have to fill in an HC1 form ‘Claim for Help with Health Costs’ giving various details of your circumstances and then send it off in the pre-paid envelope provided.
If you qualify for help you will be sent an HC2 or HC3 Certificate. The certificate will tell you who it covers and how long it lasts. An HC2 qualifies you for full costs. An HC3 only qualifies you for partial help with health costs.
Can I claim a refund for NHS dental charges I have already paid?
If you are issued with an HC2 or HC3 certificate, you may be able to claim a refund if you have recently paid for NHS dental charges. You will need to keep your receipt and use an HC5 claim form. Claims must be received within three months of your paying the charge.
How can I get the claim forms?
To get the forms HC1 or HC5 mentioned above:
- Contact your local office of the Department of Work and Pensions (the local Jobcentre Plus or ‘social security’ office) for a claim form. Find your local office in the phone book under ‘Jobcentre Plus’, OR
- Get them from an NHS hospital, OR
- Your dentist may stock them, OR
- Phone the NHS Formsline on 0845 610 1112, textphone number 08700 102 870, OR
- Phone the Department of Health Publications Orderline on 0300 123 1002 (minicom 0300 123 1003) and ask for a form to be sent to you.
How can I find out more?
This leaflet only gives a brief summary of how to obtain help with dental charges and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations nor is it a full statement of the law. The official information booklet ‘Help with health costs‘ (HC11 in England and Northern Ireland, and HSC1 in Scotland) provides more details for people on a low income. Your local Jobcentre Plus office, NHS hospital, pharmacist, doctor, dentist or optician may have a leaflet on help with health costs and relevant claim forms. The booklet is available as a download from:
Web: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/HealthCosts/1558.aspx (England and Scotland) and
Web: www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/hc11_help_with_health_costs.pdf (Northern Ireland).
Directgov brings together the widest range of public service information and services online.
Produced by the Central Office of Information, Directgov provides information from government departments on topics ranging from travel safety and parental leave, to special educational needs, local NHS services, and benefits. The site also brings together an increasing number of online government services – including being able to download and/or complete certain benefit claim forms online. See the Health costs section of the website.
NHS Business Services Authority – Help with Health Costs
Help with Health Costs provides exemption certificates to those entitled and sells Prescription Pre-payment Certificates. They have phone lines that deal with various queries:
- NHS Low Income Scheme
Tel: 0845 850 1166
- Prescription Pre-payment, Medical and Maternity Exemption Certificates
For general queries before you apply: Tel: 0845 850 0030
For specific queries after you’ve applied: Tel: 0845 601 8076
- NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificates
Tel: 0845 609 9299
Benefit Enquiry Line – BEL
England, Wales and Scotland – Tel: 0800 88 22 00 Textphone: 0800 24 33 55
Northern Ireland – Tel: 0800 220 674 Textphone: 0800 243 787
For people with disabilities, their carers and representatives. It is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. BEL offers confidential advice and information on benefits and how to claim them. In addition they can also send out an extensive range of leaflets and claim packs, and help you to complete a claim form over the phone.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Provides independent advice on many issues including benefits. Listed in the phone book under ‘Citizens Advice Bureaux’. Also, see their excellent website:
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