Help with Healthcare Costs

October 19, 2023


Healthwatch East Sussex has heard about the impact of increases in the cost of living on people’s wellbeing and their access to health and care services.

A collection of items on a blue background including a wallet, toy houses, a light bulb, a shopping trolley and white picky bank with a red arrow signifying costs going up.

We have drawn together information on the various schemes that offer reduced costs and support for those most in need.

Please note – many of these schemes have eligibility criteria, so please check these before making an application or seeking to claim. Please note that eligibility for one scheme may not make you eligible for another, so do check the details.

Find out if you are eligible for help with healthcare costs

You may be eligible for NHS help with health-related costs including travel to medical appointments, NHS prescriptions, NHS dental treatment and other health costs.

Click here to find out about what help is available and what you could be entitled to.


NHS Low Income Scheme

If you have a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help you with:

  • NHS prescription charges
  • NHS dental treatment charges
  • the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports (check with your hospital for their arrangements for supplying NHS wigs)

How much help you get depends on your weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have at the time you apply.


Help with prescription costs

Most adults in England have to pay for their prescriptions, which are currently charged at £9.65 per item.

You may have the right to free prescriptions if:

  • You are 60 or over
  • You are under 16 years old
  • You are 16, 17 or 18 years old and in full-time education
  • You are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate
  • You have a continuing physical disability that stops you going out without help from another person, and you have a valid medical exemption certificate
  • You hold a valid war pension exemption certificate, and the prescription is for your disability
  • You are an NHS inpatient
  • You have a long-term health condition. People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions by applying for a valid medical exemption certificate(MedEx)

You are entitled to a free prescription if you or your partner receive the following benefits:

You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you are under 20 and a dependent of someone on these benefits.

To see if you are entitled to free NHS prescriptions use the NHS eligibility checker.

A NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) could save you money if you pay for your NHS prescriptions. This certificate lets you pay a fee upfront to cover all your NHS prescriptions, including dental, no matter how many you need for a set price.

You will save money if you need more than 3 items in 3 months, or 11 items in 12 months.

A prescription prepayment certificate costs:

£31.25 for 3 months

£111.60 for 12 months

If you are prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), you can save money with the Hormone Replacement Therapy Prescription Prepayment Certificate (HRT PPC). An HRT PPC enables you to access a year’s worth of treatment for as little as £19.30, the cost of two single prescriptions.


Support with travel to health appointments

The Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) provides reimbursed transport costs for eligible individuals to attend health appointments. If you can’t afford the cost of travelling to hospital and you can’t get a friend or relative to take you, you may be able to benefit from the service.

Depending on your circumstances you may be expected to pay for travel, and then claim back these costs, so you will need to retain journey details and receipts.

If you can’t travel because of your medical condition, you might be eligible for non-emergency patient transport service. These services provide free transport to and from a hospital for:

  • People whose condition means they need additional medical support during their journey
  • People who find it difficult to walk
  • Parents or carers of children who are being transported

Other useful cost-of-living information and advice

East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council has gathered together information on various forms of cost of living support on its website, where you can find details about financial benefits, food banks, employment and learning advice, plus ways to reduce your household bills.


Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides free and independent advice on a wide range of themes, including cost-of-living. You can find information on their website, or use it find details of how you can obtain support locally.


UK Government

The UK Government has developed a webpage to help you find information on income and disability benefits, bills and allowances, childcare, housing and travel.

It has a useful tool to help you check whether you are entitled to any benefits or other financial support.

In addition, it has information on accessing free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems.


Further help and support 

Healthwatch England

Healthwatch England have published advice on looking after your health  during the cost-of-living crisis.

Healthwatch East Sussex

For help navigating health and social care services please contact our free and independent Information and Signposting Service.

Contact us by:

Telephone: 0333 101 4007 Monday – Friday (10am-2pm)


To share feedback on health and care services in East Sussex any time, visit the Healthwatch East Sussex Feedback Centre here.

Sign up to our mailing listKeep up-to-date with Healthwatch East Sussex and receive regular information on our activities and how you can have your say on local health and social care services

For detail on how we use your data please view our privacy policy here.