Almost 1.2 million claims have been made for Treatment Benefits (dental, optical and aural) in the first 11 months of this year according to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection figures.
Of the claims made, just over 965,000 claims were made by employees and 192,000 were received from self-employed people (the latter representing 16 per cent of the overall claims received). The extension of Treatment Benefits to the self-employed and their dependent spouses/partners was introduced in March 2017, with further improvements to the scheme being extended for employees and the self-employed from the end of October, 2017.
The Optical scheme now covers the provision of glasses, either free or subsidised if an upgraded design is chosen, or provides a contribution towards contact lenses. Repairs to glasses are also covered under the scheme.
The Dental scheme now includes a contribution to cleanings, either an annual scale and polish or more extensive periodontal treatment if clinically required. These treatments are available in addition to the free annual dental examination. The cleanings 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 additional 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.
The cost of the scheme for the full year of 2018 is expected to be over €92 million.