Grants of up to €1,000 every two years under changes to Treatment Benefit Scheme
Senator Aisling Dolan welcomed government changes to the grants for people who use medical contact lenses which is being reduced to two years announced by Minister Heather Humphreys under the Department of Social Protection.
The Fine Gael Senator stated
“This will really make a difference for people at work and the self-employed who have to cover the cost of medical contact lenses. With these changes €1,000 will now be available every two years instead of a four-year period.
“Over 2 and quarter million people in Ireland working or self-employed are eligible for treatment benefit. Retired people and dependant spouses may also be eligible. It also covers dental, eye-tests and glasses, hearing tests so do call into your local dentist and optician in the treatment benefit scheme to find out about a free check-up.
“Minister Humphreys has also introduced €500 towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig or hair replacement due to the impact of medical treatments for cancer or alopecia.
“Other changes that reduce the number of PRSI contributions required will make it more accessible for people in the 25-28 age bracket who will now only need to work for 9 months to avail of dental, optical and aural treatments
“Minister Heather Humphreys has brought through these changes with immediate effect under the Department of Social Protection through the Treatment Benefit Scheme.
“I know people are slowly getting back into the routine of check-ups after the pandemic and lockdown and we can put it on the long finger – these benefits make it easier for people who are working to do those check-ups”
Announcing the changes in relation to medical contact lenses, Minister Humphreys commented:
“I am delighted to introduce these changes today which will mean people can avail of State support towards the cost of medical contact lenses every two years instead of four.
“Contact lenses can be a costly expense and this measure is designed to assist people who require specialised lenses for medical reasons.
“This is the third positive change that I have introduced under the Treatment Benefit scheme arising from Budget 2022.
“It follows on from my introduction of a new €500 grant towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig or hair replacement and the easing of PRSI conditions for 25-29 year olds.
“The Regulations that I have signed today ensure that these people, whether employees or the self-employed, are given the same treatment as those who might use the Treatment Benefit Scheme to receive support towards the cost of a pair of glasses.
“I will continue to examine what further changes we can make to this important scheme so that more of our citizens can benefit.”
Funded out of the Social Insurance Fund, the Treatment Benefit scheme is available to employees, self-employed and retired people with the required social insurance (PRSI) contributions and to their adult dependants (almost 2.25 million people in all).
The Treatment Benefit scheme provides for full or partial funding for specified dental, optical, aural treatments, medical appliances (hearing aids and medical contact lenses) and a grant towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig or hair replacement. It is the Department’s largest individual scheme in terms of claims with over 1.4 million made in 2021.
Expenditure on the scheme was over €109 million in 2021, with an estimated additional €7 million being re-imbursed to the HSE in respect of people who were dual qualified for treatment (under both Treatment Benefit and the HSE medical card scheme).
For those who are prescribed to wear contact lenses for medical reasons the frequency of the need to change the lenses varies with their particular eye condition.
Some people must wear these lenses because they have a distortion in the shape of the pupil and the lens stops the distortion. In this case, the lens is a hard glass lens.
Sometimes medical lenses are needed because glasses can’t correct the bad eyesight issue sufficiently.