Eligibility checker UC 02

Universal Credit – check to see if you’re entitled to free NHS healthcare

People claiming Universal Credit are being encouraged to check if they’re exempt from paying certain NHS charges.

Universal Credit claims have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest government statistics showing that nearly six million people* are now claiming the benefit.

If you are receiving Universal Credit, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is making it easier for you to find out what additional NHS support you are 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 a mistaken assumption that everyone claiming Universal Credit is automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions, and that they don’t have to pay NHS dental and optical charges. However, someone would only be exempt from paying these NHS charges if their earnings are within the defined threshold.

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

People claiming Universal Credit qualify for free NHS 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.

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, regardless of how many you need. 

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

*5.9 million people on Universal Credit as of 8 July 2021 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/universal-credit-statistics-29-april-2013-to-8-july-2021/universal-credit-statistics-29-april-2013-to-8-july-2021)

Contact Information

Katy Edgar

Senior media and campaigns officer

NHS Business Services Authority