Who can get help?
The following groups of people can get help with necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment. If you are not sure what travel costs you can get help with, ask the hospital before you travel.
- 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.
- You are named on an HC2 (or HC3) certificate because of low income (see below).
Children and young adults:
- If the patient is a child under 16, it is their parent’s income that counts even if someone else takes them to hospital.
- If the patient is 16 or over but under 19 (under 20 in England) and is counted as a dependant of someone getting benefits.
- If the patient is 16 and over and not a dependant of a person who gets benefits or credits, they can make their own claim, even if they live with their parents.
How can people on a low income apply for help?
Some people on a low income may qualify for help towards travel costs. 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 a travel cost 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 a travel cost to hospital. You will need to keep all receipts for your travel and you will need to claim using an HC5 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 place of treatment, 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.
What form of transport can I use?
You should use the cheapest available means of transport, using public transport where possible. Petrol costs equivalent to public transport costs will be reimbursed if a private car is used instead of available public transport. If public transport is unavailable full petrol costs will be reimbursed. Taxis may be used if there is no alternative or if the patient is unable to use public transport.
How can I claim the help for travel costs?
The hospital fares office should be able to reimburse you the return fare at the time of your visit. Ask at reception if necessary. Make sure that you keep all tickets and receipts. You need to show evidence of benefits or exemption (certificate HC2 or HC3). If you are unable to pay a fare in advance, check with the hospital, as there may be other forms of assistance.
What about travel costs for visitors to hospital?
People receiving Income Support or Income-based Jobseeeker’s Allowance may be able to get help with visiting someone in hospital in certain circumstances. To find out if you qualify contact you Jobcentre Plus office, hospital social services department, or other advice sources (see below).
How can I find out more?
This leaflet only gives a brief summary of how to obtain help with travel costs to hospital. 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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