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News / January 21, 2010

PRSI eligibility confusion highlighted in D

by Guy Hiscott

In the run up to the 31 December 2009 deadline, the Department of Social and Family Affairs received more than 150,000 eligibility inquiries for dental treatment, with ‘claims involving many hundred customers received from eight dental practices’, reported Deputy Mary Hanafin in the Dáil on 19 January.

Deputy Hanafin went on to express concern that some of these patients had not approached the dentist to seek treatment, nor had they authorised the dental practice to submit an application on their behalf. However, the dentists concerned were contacted and resubmitted the information in the correct manner.

To ensure that enquiries were submitted in the right way and with each patient’s consent, officials will perform spot checks. Any breaches of the guidelines will be reported to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner for appropriate follow-up action.

Speaking about the long-term status of the fund, Deputy Hanafin said: ‘We do not intend to retain these changes on a permanent basis. My aim is that they will be in place for just one year. We have maintained the two most critical elements of this scheme. The examination can highlight basic difficulties in addition to a myriad of much more serious diseases. We have protected the basic scheme while changing the eligibility criteria.’

Only those patients who by the end of 2009 had confirmed appointments to see their dentists will have their eligibility considered under the old rules.

Approval for treatment lapses if treatment is not commenced within three months of the approval date and treatment must be completed within six months of commencing.