Thursday 15th May 2014. New figures from the Department of Social Protection show that almost two million Irish people are entitled to a free dental examination under their PRSI dental benefit.
However only 298,000 people, or less than 15% actually availed of the free annual examination in 2013.
The new President of the Irish Dental Association Peter Gannon said it was clear we must try harder to encourage people to avail of the examination they have in effect already paid for.
“New research shows that over half or 54% of the two million people who are entitled to a free dental exam are not aware of it. This is not surprising given that it is the single remaining benefit of the PRSI scheme and one the Department has never promoted it in any way” Dr Gannon said.
He was speaking to over 400 delegates who are attending the IDA annual conference which is taking place at the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny.
Information compiled by the IDA shows that a worker who earns €50K a year pays €38.46 a week in PRSI – that’s €2K a year.
“The very least people deserve for paying this tax is to receive their entitlement and we are calling on the Government to facilitate that” Dr Gannon said.
It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 Irish adults have some form of gum disease yet surveys show that 85% of the population believe they have healthy teeth and gums. The IDA believes that if everyone who is entitled to an exam availed of it, the gum disease issue could be addressed.
The Association is proposing that the Revenue Commissioners include a dental voucher with the P60 document which is sent out to every tax payer via their employer every Januarly. The Association says their proposed scheme is simple and cost effective.
“The Government has reneged on its promises to review the PRSI and Medical Card schemes. This scheme would allow it to give something back to hard pressed taxpayers in a cost effective way. No expensive ad campaigns are involved. In one fell swoop every tax payer - including over 1m who aren’t even aware of the benefit – will have a tangible voucher in their hand and this we feel will encourage much greater take up of the scheme.
"Simple changes in the way people care for their teeth can make big improvements in oral health in the long term and will save money for patients and also for the state” Dr Gannon concluded.