Uniform swab test prices sought

Published July 22, 2020, 3:07 PM

by Ben Rosario

House Deputy Speaker 1Pacman partylist Rep. Mikee Romero called on the Department of Health Wednesday to address public complaints against the varied pricing of swab tests, noting that the cost for the gold standard test ranges from P3,500 to as high as P8,150.


Romero said the DoH should set a single, common price for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test being charged by government and private hospitals in Metro Manila.

“I suggest that the DoH fix a common standard rate for this test for the guidance of our people. The cost hospitals incur in doing the RT-PCR screening should not be much different. I am assuming that they are doing the same process and using the same equipment, and the personnel involved have the same training and experience,” Romero said.

He noted that nine private and government hospitals in Metro Manila charge individuals RT-PCR test fees ranging from P3,500 to P8,150.

According to the House official, the Philippine National Red Cross charges the lowest at P3,500 per swab screening.

The Lung Center of the Philippines’ RT-PCR test cost fetches around P4,600, which is only P400 lower than the price for the same laboratory examination imposed by a private hospital in Manila.

On the other hand, a private hospital in Quezon City collects P4,300 for the same test. It is not immediately known if its branch also imposes the same fee.

The hospital’s RT-PCR test will cost at least P8,150 for a scheduled appointment.

Another hospital in Manila pegged its RT-PCR test at P5,000.

Romero noted that while available rapid test for COVID-19 are cheaper at P1,200 to P2,000, many still do not accept it as a reliable examination in determining infection.

Many local government units still prefer RT-PCR test results before they would accept the entry of returning constituents to their communities.

Romero pointed out that fixing a single price would prevent suspected coronavirus carriers from flocking to one or two hospitals offering lower rates, even if these are far from their places of residence or work, so they could save on the test.

“It would enable more of our people, even those asymptomatic, to avail themselves of the services of these centers for their protection and peace of mind,” he said.

At the same time, the House leader suggested that government hospitals and local government units with DoH-accredited laboratories offer the lowest cost possible for RT-PCR.

He said DoH hospitals should also speed up gold-standard testing for their own doctors, nurses, and other personnel who have been exposed to infected colleagues and patients.

Romero lamented that some nurses of government specialty hospitals in Quezon City had to go to private test facilities.