PRSI dental scheme is now affordable

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has raised hopes that the PRSI dental scheme could be resurrected in the term of the next government.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal recently, Varadkar (right) said that due to rising employment and rising wages, free primary care to all adults to cover dental fees, GP visits and prescriptions was now affordable.

The minister’s comments could be an indication that the government is preparing to back down on plans for universal health insurance only a few weeks after revealing that it was looking at alternatives to the plans put in place by his predecessor James Reilly.

Cork dentist Barry Crowley said he would welcome some reinstatement of the PRSI scheme. He said: “I think if the government are to reintroduce reimbursement of fees on PRSI it should be like claiming back on insurance.

“The patient can get their receipts and send them to department of social welfare to get their percentage of fees reimbursed. I don’t think the onus should be on the dentist to do the paperwork for the patient.

“We already do it for medical patients with the HSE and it leads to endless paperwork.”

A spokesman for the Department of Social Protection said: “The services provided under the Treatment Benefit Scheme have been routinely reviewed in recent years and will be again in advance of the next budget. Consideration of the re-instatement of any particular services will have to be taken in light of available resources and competing priorities within the Department’s overall budget.”

A recent IDA survey found that a complete renegotiation of the Dental Treatment Services Scheme was favoured by 80 per cent of respondents, while 74 per cent want a renegotiation of the PRSI dental scheme. Dentists were also asked which treatments they would like to see restored to the PRSI scheme and in what order of preference. The list (in descending order) was: fillings, scale and polish, extractions and periodontal treatment.