Why are COVID-19 tests more expensive in some hospitals than others?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2020 09:41 AM | Updated as of Sep 23 2020 12:46 PM

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Why are COVID-19 tests more expensive in some hospitals than in others? 

According to Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19, the total cost covers the price of the testing kit and expenses for actually running the test such as machines, the technicians that run them, and their safety gear.

"Puwedeng doon sa mga laboratories na mataas-taas ang charge, iyong cost ng running the test itself could be a factor. Tandaan natin na iba-iba iyong machines na ginagamit," she told TeleRadyo. 

(In laboratories where the charge is a bit higher, the cost of running the test itself might be a factor. Let's remember that different types of machines are used.)

"Factor din iyong tinatawag na biosafety. 'Pag kukuhanan ka ng swab, kailangan iyong technician, naka-PPE... Sa loob ng laboratory ganoon din ang set-up at medyo costly iyon," the doctor added. 

(The so-called biosafety is also a factor. When the nasal or oral swab is taken, the technician has to wear personal protective equipment. That's also the set-up inside the laboratory and that is a bit costly.) 

Patients also incur additional charges if they want to get their results faster than the usual 3 to 5-day processing time, said Philippine College of Physicians vice president Dr. Maricar Limpin. 

"Pero lahat tayo, kailangan nating makuha iyong resulta as soon as possible. Hindi pupuwede iyong porke ikaw ay may pera, puwede mong makuha nang mas mabilisan. Ang mahihirap din naman, kailangan din nilang makuha iyong kanila sa mas madaling panahon," she said in a separate TeleRadyo interview. 

(However, we all need to get the result as quickly as possible. It shouldn't be the case that just because you have money means that you can get your result faster. Even the poor need to get their results quickly.)

Limpin's group is proposing a price cap for tests, she said.

Authorities should consult laboratories on what they need to bring down costs, suggested Ong-Lim.

TeleRadyo, Sept. 23, 2020