Dental treatments available on PRSI scheme are halved
DENTAL treatment for almost two million people covered by PRSI was halved this year -- and it's going to be even worse in 2011.
The changes to free or subsidised dental treatment in last year's Budget saw spending fall from €62m in 2008 to €25m this year, new figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
Budget 2010 slashed the number of benefits people covered by PRSI could claim for free or at a discount from their dentist.
Since January the only benefit they have under the scheme is a free examination, leaving people to pay the cost of other treatments out of their own pocket.
Tuesday's Budget failed to reverse the measure and the three months' grace given to PRSI holders this year -- allowing people to claim full benefits if they submitted claims by December 31 -- is not available next year.
The full brunt of the measure was revealed in yesterday's figures.
The Government has been equally harsh in curtailing the treatment given to 1.5 million medical card holders .
Despite predictions that an extra 10,000 people a month will qualify for medical cards next year, the money spent on their dental care is being kept at just €63m, leaving them with just an emergency service.
The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has claimed that there will be 350,000 more people holding medical cards by the end of next year compared to 2008, bringing the total number up to 1.6 million.
"We have the disgraceful situation where what is a limited emergency treatment service is being stretched beyond breaking point," IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said.
"Hundreds of thousands of people will be denied a range of routine treatments including fillings and extractions as well as dentures and the treatment of gum disease."
More GPs will have to let staff go or cut wages next year following the decision to cut €48m from the payments under the medical card scheme. Doctors have warned this will impact on services for patients.
Fees are being slashed by up to 50pc in some cases.