Significant Increase in Optical and Dental Treatment Benefit Uptake


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Significant Increase in Optical and Dental Treatment Benefit Uptake

227,000 Claims made in November and December 2017

€15m in Benefit Paid

Monday, 22nd January, 2018: The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is pleased to announce that there has been a strong demand from customers for the Treatment Benefit scheme, which include a range of dental, optical and aural benefits, in the first two months since the range of treatments was extended.  The additional optical and dental treatments introduced from the end of October 2017 have seen a surge in uptake from customers, with the new dental cleaning and supply/repair of glasses particularly popular.  As a result 112,000 claims were processed in November with a further 115,000 claims processed in December.  This represents a four-fold increase on the same period a year ago.

Speaking today, Minister Doherty T.D., said that she is very pleased to note the increased take up on dental and optical benefits: “The increased take up on the dental benefit scheme is particularly welcome and will have a big impact on the oral health of the community.  This is a vindication of the Government commitment and decision to restore benefits under the scheme and earlier in 2017 to equalise access for the self-employed.  It also clearly demonstrates our success in informing the public as to their entitlements under the scheme.”

The total amount paid on the Treatment Benefit scheme to contractors (dentists, opticians and audiologists) in respect of treatments provided during November (paid on 8th December 2017) and December (paid on 12th January 2018) amounted to almost €15 million.

The Treatment Benefit scheme is now administered from a new online system which has been developed over recent months to enable efficient delivery of the scheme.  This includes a portal (WelfarePartners) for use by contractors (dentists, opticians and audiologists) to check patient eligibility and to conveniently submit online claims and receive payments. 

Over 60% of approved contractors have now registered to use the new WelfarePartner system within the first three months of operation and are transacting business online with the Department and these contractors represent over 70% of the overall business transacted with the Department over the past two months. 

Commenting on the success of the new online application system, Minister Doherty said: “I am extremely pleased with the numbers of contractors who have signed up to use the new online system.  The new online system allows dentists and opticians to check eligibility and submit their claims, facilitating automated claim processing and payment.  I wish to acknowledge the contribution made by the representative groups, particularly the Irish Dental Association and the Association of Optometrists of Ireland in their consultations with my Department while this development was underway and in the early roll out phase.

I would encourage all PRSI contributors to avail of their new entitlements under this very important scheme.  I am delighted that this Government has been able to restore these benefits at this time.”

Further information is available at www.welfare.ie/treatmentbenefit

Notes to Editors

Additional information on the Treatment Benefit scheme

  • The Treatment Benefit (TB) scheme was made available to self-employed contributors from 27th March 2017.  The benefits available at that time (free dental and optical exams and a contribution towards hearing aids) were extended to the self-employed.

  • From 28th October 2017, qualified PRSI contributors and their dependant spouse/partners, including self-employed contributors, can avail of extended optical and dental services;
    • The optical scheme covers the provision of glasses, either free or subsidised if an upgrade design is chosen, or provides a contribution towards contact lenses.  Repairs to glasses are also covered, in addition to the previously available free eye examination.
    • The dental scheme has either an annual scale and polish or more extensive periodontal gum treatment if clinically required.  These treatments are available in addition to the free annual dental exam.
    • The cleanings will require a co-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 treatment this co-payment is capped at a maximum of €15.
    • Benefits available under the medical appliance scheme remain unchanged; covering a payment of 50% towards the cost of a hearing aid, up to a maximum payment of €500 per aid.

  • These changes have added 450,000 customers (self-employed contributors and their dependant spouses) to the scheme.

  • The benefits are available to employed and self-employed contributors and their dependent spouses/partners.  Overall, some 2.5 million qualified contributors are entitled to benefit from the scheme.
  • Treatment Benefits are subject to frequency rules;
    • Dental benefits will be available on an annual basis (i.e. one exam and scale and polish per annum).
    • Optical treatments are subject to a two year frequency rule

ENDS
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Contact Details
E: press.office@welfare.ie
T: 01 704 3082
Twitter: @welfare_ie

Last modified:22/01/2018