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Extended Optical and Dental services are now available to qualified PRSI contributors, including employees and the self-employed, and their dependent spouses or partners, says Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton.

“These changes mean that the Treatment Benefit scheme will now be available to a total of 2.5 million workers. Restoring benefits to PRSI contributors was a key Fine Gael commitment before the last election and I’m delighted that we are now in a position to deliver”, said Minister Stanton.

“In addition to restoring benefits to employed people, eligibility has now been extended to the self-employed. Now 450,000 self-employed contributors and their dependent spouses or partners can now avail of free teeth cleaning and free glasses for the first time.

“The Optical scheme now covers the provision of glasses, either free or subsidised if an upgraded design is chosen, or provide a contribution towards contact lenses. Repairs to glasses are also covered under the extended scheme, in addition to the free eye examination which was announced earlier this year.

“The Dental scheme now includes a contribution to cleanings, either an annual scale and polish or more extensive periodontal treatment if clinically required. 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 additional co-payment is capped at a maximum of €15. The changes to the Dental scheme are in addition to the free annual dental examination announced in March.

“Our commitment to these extended benefits demonstrate a Government committed to supporting people at work, be they employed or self-employed. Treatment benefits are an important support for those who contribute each week to social insurance fund. I hope that these improvements will encourage more working people to take better care of their health, which should drive down their health expenses in the longer run.