How to check if you could get some paid-for NHS services free

People claiming Universal Credit in England are being encouraged to check if they’re eligible for free NHS treatment.

Universal Credit claims have increased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19, with statistics showing that nearly one million people who started on Universal Credit in the first month of lockdown are still claiming the benefit.

If you’re claiming Universal Credit, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is making it easier for you to find out what additional NHS support you’re entitled to.

The online eligibility checker, available at www.nhs.uk/checkbeforeyoutick , tells you within minutes if you’re eligible for free NHS prescriptions, NHS dental treatment and help with other NHS costs.

Brendan Brown, director of Citizen Services at the NHSBSA, said: “There’s an assumption that everyone claiming Universal Credit is automatically entitled to free prescriptions and dental treatment – but this is a mistaken belief. People are only entitled if their earnings are within the threshold.

“With so many people claiming Universal Credit for the first time ever, we’re here to help people understand if they are entitled to free healthcare and how to claim correctly.”

People claiming Universal Credit qualify for free prescriptions and dental treatment if their earnings during their last assessment period (also known as take home pay) were £435 or less, or £935 or less if their Universal Credit includes a payment for a child or they have limited capability for work or work-related activity.

Universal Credit claimants whose working hours and income vary each month may drop in and out of eligibility, which is why it’s important to use the online checker regularly.

In January 2020, new FP10 prescription forms were introduced which included a new exemption tick box ‘U’, for patients who receive Universal Credit and meet the criteria for free NHS prescriptions. Some pharmacies will still be using the old FP10 form until stocks of it run out. In this case, people eligible for free prescriptions claiming Universal Credit should tick box K (income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance).

Other financial support may be available for people whose earnings are over the threshold, such as the NHS Low Income Scheme or by purchasing a Prescription Pre-payment Certificate (PPC).

A PPC covers the cost of all NHS prescriptions, including NHS dental prescriptions, regardless of how many you need.

Find out what you could be entitled to at www.nhs.uk/checkbeforeyoutick

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