DOH wants price cap on swab tests
At a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH had submitted to the Office of the President a recommendation for the issuance of an executive order that will regulate the prices of RT-PCR tests.
AFP/Luis Acosta
DOH wants price cap on swab tests
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) wants a ceiling on the prices of real time-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR swab confirmatory test for COVID-19.

At a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH had submitted to the Office of the President a recommendation for the issuance of an executive order that will regulate the prices of RT-PCR tests.

Malacañang said there is no decision yet on the proposal, but noted that people can avail themselves of low-priced testing kits donated by various institutions.

“There is no development yet on that, but I am announcing this to those who want low-priced RT-PCR, P1,100: go to donated machines and donated testing kits,”presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said at a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro yesterday.

Vergeire pointed out that the prices of swab testing varies in each testing facility.

“We observed the differential pricing across different laboratories in the country. We saw the big difference as to how much swab testing cost (in each of these laboratories),” she noted.

The STAR found that the Philippine Red Cross, the country’s biggest COVID-19 testing laboratory, charges only P4,000 per test with reimbursement from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to be filed directly by members.

A test at the Bulacan Molecular Laboratory in Malolos costs P3,700 with the PhilHealth subsidy automatically deducted if the membership of a patient has been validated.

On the other hand, a private hospital in Valenzuela charges P6,995 per test although its testing laboratory is not accredited with PhilHealth. Because of this, patients are not able to reimburse with the state insurer. Some private hospitals are said to be charging up to P12,000 per test.

Vergeire said the DOH wants the regulation of swab test prices to be backed by an EO issued by President Duterte.

Although there is a law that sets the cap on pricing, this covers only the price ceiling for medicines. Vergeire added that diagnostics and professional fees are not covered by the price limitations.

“That’s what we have tried to study. We are in a pandemic situation so we hope we can have this (price ceiling) at this time. Through an EO, we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs,” she maintained. – Alexis Romero

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