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Dental treatment available to workers under the Benefit Treatment Scheme. Shutterstock/Minerva Studio

Treatment Benefit Scheme for dental works, hearing aids and glasses extended by 80,000 people

The amount of PRSI contributions necessary for young people to qualify has been significantly reduced.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection, Heather Humphreys, has announced this morning that the Treatment Benefit Scheme will be revamped to include an additional 80,000 people who are between 25 and 28 years old.

The scheme allows people who have made 260 PRSI contributions (five years of employment) to receive state supports for dental treatments, hearing aids, and glasses or contact lenses.

However, from today this threshold is being reduced to nine months of employment for the 25 to 28 year old age bracket, from 260 PRSI contributions to 39.

Currently, an estimated 2.25 million people qualify for Treatment Benefits.

Announcing the measure this morning, Humphreys said:

“The Treatment Benefit scheme is the Department’s largest individual scheme in terms of claims with over 1.4 million processed and paid in 2021.

“I am delighted to extend the scheme to benefit more workers, particularly our younger cohort, and I would urge all who have an entitlement to make sure they get the full benefit from their PRSI contributions.”

“Previously, a young worker in this cohort would have to clock up PRSI contributions over a five year period, that’s now reduced to nine months – and demonstrates our desire to support our young professionals when it comes to dental, optical or aural treatment.”

People who have made the required amount of PRSI contributions can avail of an annual oral examination and a payment of €42 towards either a scale or polish or, if clinically necessary, periodontal treatment.

They are also entitled to a free eyesight test every 2 years and a grant towards glasses or contact lenses and a maximum grant of €1,000 for a pair of hearing aids every four years and a grant for repairs.

The scheme is also available to the dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of those who qualify. 

Recently, the Department also announced a €500 grant towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig or hair replacement as part of the scheme.

The grant is expected to support approximately 2,000 women or men during the first year of its introduction, and covers hair loss which came as a result of cancer or alopecia.

Humphreys said on Wednesday that: “This new grant is being introduced in recognition of both the physical and psychological impact that sudden hair loss can have on someone’s life.

The announcement today comes after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly telling the Dáil last week that a new, sustainable, long-term scheme is needed “that makes sure that everybody, whether on a medical card or not, can get access to affordable, high-quality oral healthcare when they need it”.

“Unfortunately, at the moment, that simply is not the case for too many people,” he acknowledged. 

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was also told that there is a severe shortage of dentists, with the percentage of members of the public who didn’t receive an appointment was north of 50%

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