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Help with Health Costs


Most treatments and services provided under the health service in Northern Ireland are free at the point of delivery, however charges can be applied for dental treatment and ophthalmic services. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for help with these health costs. To find out if you qualify for help with health costs please click below.



Some patients are entitled to claim financial assistance with Health Service dental and ophthalmic charges. To find out if you qualify for help with health costs please click on the relevant section below, use the entitlement checker or refer to the information leaflet and supporting documentation.



Universal Credit – Important Information

Universal Credit does not automatically qualify you for help with your health costs. Recipients of Universal Credit must apply for help with health costs via the Low Income Scheme by completing form HC1.

Applications can be obtained from your optician, dental practice or your local Jobs and Benefit Office.

Eligible patients must hold a valid HC2 exemption certificate at the time of treatment.


Entitlement Checker (see Help with Health Costs | Counter Fraud and Probity Services (CFPS) (



Every year in Northern Ireland the health service loses several millions of pounds in charges by patients wrongfully claiming exemption from charges for dental treatment, sight tests and glasses.

Whether claimed in error or fraudulently the consequence is less funds for patient care.

The Fixed Penalty Charges Scheme seeks to tackle this issue – and help put Health Service money back where it belongs.

Most people are honest. They are correctly entitled to help and claim properly. If you are entitled to help, you should continue to claim. You won’t have to pay penalty charges.

How is the Penalty Charge calculated?

The fine will be 5 times the charge that should have been paid, up to a maximum of £100, and it must be paid within 28 days. Non-payment will lead to an additional surcharge of 50% of the original Penalty Charge. These penalty charges are payable in addition to the original Health Service charge.

Health and Social Care has a zero tolerance policy towards anyone found committing fraud in order to obtain free health service treatment when they are not entitled. Enforcement action includes the recovery of debts owed through the Small Claims Court.



If you have any questions on entitlement or penalty charges, you can call our free information line.

HSC Logo Patient Charges Advice Line



Help with Health Costs leaflet
Dental Patient Guidance
Dental Practice Guidance
Ophthalmic Patient Guidance
Ophthalmic Practice Guidance
MDS 730 Universal Credit and Help with Health Costs (Sept 2017)
MDS 738 Patient Exemption Guidance (Aug 2019)
MOS 309 Universal Credit and Help with Health Costs (Sept 2017)
MOS 327 Universal Credit and Help with Health Costs (May 2019)
HSS (PCD) 1-2017 Interim arrangements for Passporting to Help with Health Costs under Universal Credit