The national government may reassess the price range for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to make them more affordable, Malacañang said on Monday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting presidential spokesperson, made this remark amid concerns that some laboratories and hospitals are turning RT-PCR testing into a private business.
“Maybe we can start assessing again the prices, although we went through that cycle, we went through cycles of putting those caps on the RT-PCR. So maybe, it can be something that we can explore again or the [Department of Health] can explore again,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.
On November 4 last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 118, mandating the DOH and the Department of Trade and Industry to determine and implement a price range for RT-PCR testing.
Currently, the price cap for RT-PCR tests is PHP3,800 for public laboratories/hospitals and PHP4,500 to PHP5,000 for private laboratories, all costs included.
First-time violators would face a 15-day suspension of their license-to-operate as a Covid-19 testing laboratory and a fine of PHP20,000 for the first offense.
For the second offense, the penalty is a 30-day suspension and PHP30,000 fine, and revocation of license-to-operate for the third offense.
Nograles noted that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) currently provides benefit package rates for RT-PCR testing.
“Covered naman ng PhilHealth iyong RT-PCR (The RT-PCR is covered by PhilHealth). If you’re in the hospital obviously, and then you get swabbed then that’s covered by PhilHealth,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also assured that the national government will procure new Covid-19 tests that provide results in a matter of hours as soon as they become available in the market.
“Well, obviously, if the technology gets better and we’re able to access that technology for here, for the Philippines, then we will do it,” he added.
RT-PCR tests are still considered the gold standard in detecting the virus that causes Covid-19, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Other diagnostic tests used in other countries are the saliva test and the antigen test.
As of Sunday, health authorities have recorded 4,600 new Covid-19 cases bringing the nationwide tally to 2,851,931.
Source: Philippines News Agency