SOME hospitals in Cebu had reduced their Covid-19 testing prices even before the Department of Health’s (DOH) order to regulate its price.
With the order, swab tests for Covid-19 should cost only P4,500 to P5,000 in privately owned laboratories and P3,800 in government-owned facilities.
Dr. Alex Alegrado, Allegiant Regional Care (ARC) medical director, told SunStar Cebu that their hospital reduced its prices in September prior to the DOH announcement.
“The cost of an RT-PCR test in ARC right now is P5,000 while antigen tests are at P1,000,” he said.
The University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed) also confirmed that its walk-in rate has been at P5,000 since September.
UCMed said it also offers lower rates for its corporate clients.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry in Cebu, which was tasked to assist the DOH in monitoring the prices of swab tests, said they are waiting for guidelines from their headquarters.
DTI Cebu said it has yet to receive the official memo from the head office for guidance.
In a press release, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez stressed the importance of regulating the testing prices as the country resumes economic activity.
Lopez said: “We have been seeing signs of recovery. And with the increased testing capacity of our country, the demand for testing has also increased. This policy is an opportunity for the government to regulate the prices of testing to make it more affordable and accessible to all Filipinos.”
Separately, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said prior to the joint administrative order issued by the DOH and DTI for setting the price range for the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for Covid-19, the price range of testing in private healthcare facilities in Cebu was P3,400 to P10,000.
The testing for government facilities however, she said, has always been free.
The DOH 7 earlier expressed support for the President’s mandate to make the RT-PCR testing available, accessible and affordable. Loreche said this move and implementation will encourage the public to avail themselves of the test, which she said is one of the pillars in the fight against Covid-19.
Central Visayas has 11 licensed and accredited molecular laboratories, four of which are government-run. The rest are privately owned and managed.
As of Nov. 25, 2020, a total of 29,300 samples have been tested at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center through its walk-thru and drive-thru swab testing for Covid-19.
Of these, 16,653 availed of the swab test through drive-thru while 12,647 availed of the free service through the walk-thru system.
Those found overpricing will be penalized as follows: 15-day suspension of license to operate and an administrative fine of P20,000 for the first offense, 30-day suspension of license to operate and an administrative fine of P30,000 for the second offense, and revocation of license to operate for the third offense. (JOB, WBS)