PH sets price range of COVID-19 swab tests to P3,800 to P5,000

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2020 11:32 AM | Updated as of Nov 25 2020 03:07 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Health announced Wednesday that it has already signed a joint order with the Department of Trade and Industry setting a price range for COVID-19 testing.

Public testing facilities will have a flat rate of P3,800 while for private facilities the price range would be P4,500 to P5,000.

“Kahapon ay ang DOH at DTI ay lumagda sa isang (Yesterday the DOH and DTI signed a) joint administrative order setting the procedure for the imposition of price range for COVID-19 RT PCR testing conducted by hospitals, labs and other health establishments,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during a virtual briefing.

The price range will be effective as soon as it is published in newspapers.

It was in September when the DOH said it wants to put a price cap on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as some facilities were charging up to P10,000 or even more.

Duque said the executive order subsequently issued by the President is because of the “disparate or broad range of prices of RT PCR testing.”

He said public facilities only have one price and is lower than private facilities because government already subsidizes the testing.

“The price range will be subject to monthly monitoring to ensure that they remain fair amid current development,” he added.

The health chief explained that the price range was determined through studying the market prices. He said the floor price is based on the median of the actual range of prices being offered by testing facilities while the ceiling price is based on 75th percentile or the third quartile of that range.

“Sa ganun hindi naman magkaroon ng pang-abuso lalo na 'yung mga ibang laboratoryo na ang pakay ay kumita lamang,” Duque said.

(With that, people won’t be abused especially by laboratories that only want to profit.)

Asked about laboratories that charge up to P10,000, he said they might feel bad about it but the order is supposed to address such “abuse.”

“Hindi tama iyong nagsasamantala tayo sa panahon ng pandemya,” he added.

(It’s not right to exploit people during the pandemic.)

Duque also agreed that the turnaround time for test results should not warrant a much higher fee.

“Hindi naman pwede 'yun. Kaya 'yung range na 'yun P4,500 to P5,000 doon na sila mag-adjust. Kung mas mabilis 'yung turnaround time pwede nila itaas pero huwag lalabas sa P5,000,” he said.

(That can’t be. That’s why they should adjust using the range of P4,500 to P5,000. If they have a quicker turnaround time, they can have a higher rate but it should not go beyond P5,000.)

He said Filipinos can still avail of PhilHealth coverage for testing following the existing benefit package.

Facilities that violate the joint administrative order can face suspension of their license to operate. For a first offense it’s a 15-day suspension and a fine of P20,000. For a 2nd offense, it’s a 30-day suspension and fine of P30,000. For the 3rd offense, the government will revoke the testing facility’s license to operate.

Duque said they might later look into antigen testing price ranges as soon as they have more information.