Good news and less good news.
As a one year “austerity measure”, the government removed most optical and dental benefits from those paying PRSI as a PAYE employee. This one year measure lasted rather longer than one year! I am not sure if this was taken away in 2008 or 2009?
At the Optometrist, entitled clients were still allowed a funded eye exam, but there was no help towards the cost of spectacles.
In the 2016 Budget, the government announced a broadening of the scheme, to include a contribution towards spectacles or contact lenses (about time!), also they increased the coverage to include those who were paying a Class S self employed stamp, and their dependent spouses for the first time.
I have also had confirmation that people who “dual qualify” – those who hold a medical card, but are also working, can choose which service they wish to use – if the Treatment Benefit authorises, we would suggest going that route every time – authorisation for a medical card sight test can take many weeks! That is the good news on the Treatment Benefit side.
Less good is the fact that we can no longer check your entitlement with verbal consent – we used to be able to get a person’s name and PPSn number over the phone and enquire to the Department if they would be allowed an eye exam. We now require your written and signed consent to ask this information, because of the upcoming European GDPR rules. (General Data Protection Regulations).
To confirm eligibility, all we need is your PPS number and your date of birth, but we do need to have signed and dated consent to do this.
We can also no longer enquire about any eligibility as a dependant spouse – we used to just require your and your spouse’s PPS numbers, but now you will need to send off a form, with your spouse’s signed consent to access this information.
Overall this is good news as many more people are now going to be entitled to a “Free” Eye Examination. It is not free, but it IS at no charge to you.
Most people should have their eyes checked every two years – don’t be fooled that just because you think you are seeing fine, that everything is OK. Seeing well is a great start, but Glaucoma is not called the “Thief of Sight” for nothing! Eye diseases are rare in young adults and children, but I could easily fill a good few posts about unexpected significant problems I have encountered in a routine, “no worries” eye exam!
Neither PRSI nor Medical Cards are supposed to be used for eye examinations in connection with employer VDU usage or employer Safety spectacles requirements. This is to ensure that the employee is not obliged to use their entitlement at any particular Optometrist.