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News / September 18, 2009

Abolishing Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme may double cost to Exchequer

by Guy Hiscott

Abolishing the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme (DTBS) could cost the Exchequer double the amount of keeping it in place, Fintan Hourihan, chief executive of the IDA, told the Minister for Social Welfare, Mary Hanafin TD, at a special meeting yesterday.

The IDA also made a cost/benefit analysis of the DTBS available to the Minister, which shows that despite costing the Exchequer €68 million, it provides a ‘societal benefit’ of €195 million. The analysis was undertaken by Dr Brenda Gannon, a health economist at NUI Galway.

According to Dr Gannon, the calculated benefit of €195 (thus a net benefit of €127) includes: 

• Around a €14 million saving as a result of reduced costs arising from illnesses associated with periodontal disease

• The €54 million collected by the Exchequer in the form tax revenue associated with DTBS work carried out by the dental team
• A saving of €4 million in unemployment benefits for staff who would lose their jobs if the DTBS ceases to exist

• A saving of approximately €112 million in private dental treatments that would be required to replace the DTBS
• An ongoing cost to the Exchequer of €10 million from medical card patients using the card to claim dental treatments instead of on the DTBS
• Approximately €1 million in reduced costs associated with oral cancer treatment, as the DTBS encourages dental check-ups.

Mr Hourihan said: ‘The Exchequer pays very little subsidy to support good dental healthcare in Ireland and we believe that if the Government moves to abolish the DTBS, we will see a sharp deterioration in the standard of dental health in Ireland. We are appealing to the Minister to resist this attempt to remove what little subsidy exists and to support the maintenance of the DTBS.’