Help with Costs


In Northern Ireland the Health Service (HS) offers most treatments free of charge to members of the public. In some cases a charge may have to be paid for dental treatment, eye care, wigs and fabric supports.

Certain treatments are free of charge to everyone. These include:

  • All medication and treatment provided to hospital in-patients
  • Medicine supplied on the date of your discharge or treatments administered at a hospital
  • Medication supplied and treatment given when you are in hospital as an outpatient

Charges can vary from person to person based on age, medical grounds and financial circumstances. This section explores your entitlement to help with health costs, including wigs and fabric supports. We help you work out whether you or the person you are caring for are eligible to help with costs under the Low Income Scheme.

Nevertheless, actually getting to and from your health service provider can be difficult and expensive. Therefore, we examine whether you are entitled to help with travel costs.

Exemption certificates (HC forms)

To find out if you qualify for help on the low income scheme you must complete a HC1 form.

You can download and print the HC1 form from the nidirect website (PDF 938 KB).

It is also available from your local GP, dentist, optician, hospital or Social Security office.

If you qualify for help under the scheme, you will be given an Health Service (HS) exemption certificate.

There are two types of certificate:

  • HC2 certificate which entitles you to full help with charges & costs
  • HC3 certificate which only entitles you to partial help with costs and charges

Each certificate states clearly on it which charges & costs it covers.