PRSI scheme expanded

Dentists have welcomed the expansion of the dental benefit scheme for those covered by PRSI, but warned colleagues to brace themselves for “administrative chaos”.

About 2.5 million people are now entitled to subsidised dental treatments and optical benefits, including a free pair of glasses. Dental treatments include the reintroduction of the scale and polish, which was abolished in 2009. There will also be subsidised perio treatments and the annual examination will remain cost free.

Also, for the first time, about 450,000 self-employed people and their dependent spouses are included in the scheme.

However, Irish Dental Association chief executive Fintan Hourihan has raised concerns about the new electronic system to be used by dentists to administer the scheme, which had not gone live at the time of the expansion. This meant that about 1,500 dentists had to fill in paper forms until the system went live towards the end of November.

This also meant that dentists were not able to check if the patient already had their one-year treatment allowance. If the patient has already been given treatment, the dentist will not be paid.

Hourihan said: “It is important every effort is made to ensure extra staff are employed and that the system is run efficiently. I have written to the department outlining our concerns. Dentists should not be penalised.”

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that the scheme will cost more than 70m for a full year in 2018. She said: “Treatment benefits are an important support for those who contribute each week to the Social Insurance Fund and our commitment to these extended benefits demonstrate a Government committed to supporting people at work, be they employed or self-employed.”

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Published: 19 December, 2017 at 10:13