More than 2.5m PRSI contributors are now entitled to a range of subsidised dental treatments and optical services.
The Department of Social Protection’s Treatment Benefit Scheme has been extended to optical and dental services and is now available to qualified PRSI contributors, including employees and the self-employed, and their dependent partners.
The dental scheme will now include a contribution to cleanings, either an annual scale and polish or more extensive periodontal treatment if clinically required. These treatments will be available in addition to the free annual dental examination announced in March this year.
The cleanings will require a payment from the patient if the cost of the treatment charged by the dentist is in excess of the fee payable by the Department. For the simpler scale and polish service, this additional co-payment is capped at a maximum of €15.
The scale and polish dental treatment, which was abolished in 2009, has been reintroduced. The maximum charge for the treatment will be €15, while the dentist will receive a fee of €42 from the State.
The optical scheme now covers the provision of glasses, either free or subsidised if an upgraded design is chosen, or provide a contribution towards contact lenses. Repairs to glasses are also covered by the scheme.
Chief executive of the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan, said the move was a “welcome first step” to restoring a range of treatments that were available prior to 2009 but that there was “a long way to go”.
He also warned of possible “significant administrative upheaval” as a new electronic system to be used by dentists to administer the scheme has not yet gone live and is to be delayed for another two weeks.
Social protection minister Regina Doherty said the cost of the scheme for 2018 is expected to be more than €70m.
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