Obviously, this does not apply to all students. You cannot access this scheme if you have more than £16,000.00 in savings – sorry! If this is you and you get regular prescriptions, I recommend looking into paying for prescriptions in advance: you pay £104.00 a year for unlimited prescriptions.
The NHS Low Income Scheme does not just help with prescriptions – I only use it for this but the NHS website also says the scheme can help you afford the following:
• NHS dental treatment
• Eye tests, contact lenses and glasses
• Any travelling to receive NHS care – for example bus tickets to hospital.
• NHS wigs and fabric supports
Filling out the form:
If you are like me, with less than £16,000.00 to your name, here is the link to the NHS website where you can print a HC1 application form or order it to be delivered to your home. It is a lot of pages, so I always go for the second option – and order two copies, in case I mess it up.
Fill out the form to the best of your ability. I cannot really say much else on this point, since everyone’s financial circumstances are different so filling out the form is rather personal to you. At times it does get confusing, so it can be useful to ask a parent or student services at your university to help out if you get stuck. However, I do have a few tips:
1. Do not put your boyfriend or girlfriend down as your partner! You only have a partner in this sense if you live in the same room and/ or have combined finances.
2. Where it asks for your address at the beginning, put your university address down, rather than your family home. Putting your university address means that they can see you are paying rent here and that this money is not spare.
3. Do not sign or post the form before the date that you start paying rent.
4. Most of the student section of the form is in part 8 – the most important part for us. I find it helps to fill out this part first because it’s easier to understand and it’s where you give information about any financial support you get from Student Finance. Do not include Student Finance money in your savings amount. You will also have to send a photocopy of your Student Finance confirmation letter along with your form.
Once you have completed and signed the form, post it to the address provided. If you ordered the form to be posted to you, an envelope is included with it – but remember the stamp! It shouldn’t take them more than a few weeks to get back to you with your certificate.
Getting a free prescription:
Simply take the certificate to the pharmacy along with your prescription. On the back of the prescription, tick the ‘HC2 certificate’ option, and show the certificate to the pharmacist to prove that you do not have to pay full price. That’s all! Remember to check the expiry date on your certificate and do not use it past this date.
If you need to collect a prescription in the time between posting your form and receiving your certificate, you are entitled to a refund, but you do initially have to pay. When you collect your prescription, ask the pharmacy for a receipt – this is different to the usual receipt you get when you pay. Simply keep this safe and return to the pharmacy once you have got your certificate, and your prescription cost will be refunded.
Changing financial circumstances:
If your financial circumstances change throughout the year you can always fill in another form anytime, and there is no limit to the amount of forms you can fill out.
Carys studies MA Interpreting and Translating at the University of Bath and is one of the Sub-Editors for the Student Minds blog. She is dedicated to helping students access any health and additional support they need to succeed at university.