Indonesia sharply cuts RT-PCR test prices amid call from public

Published August 23, 2021, 10:23 AM

by Xinhua

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered to cut the test prices of the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) to a range between 450,000 rupiahs (some 31.24 U.S. dollars) and 550,000 rupiahs from the previous maximum of 900,000 rupiahs set by the Health Ministry.

A girl has her health condition checked before receiving a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Karawaci in Tangerang, Indonesia, Aug. 21, 2021. (Xinhua)

The move means that the prices of the RT-PCR tests in Indonesia will be cut between 38.9 percent and 50 percent over the previous ones.

“One way to increase testing is to reduce the RT-PCR test prices. I have told the health minister about this and I asked for the cost of the PCR tests to be in the range between 450,000 rupiahs and 550,000 rupiahs,” said the president in a video uploaded to the account of the Indonesian Secretariat Cabinet on Aug. 15.

Widodo also ordered that the results of the RT-PCR tests in Indonesia should be available within 24 hours as the country needs speedy outcomes.

The Indonesian government has set the highest price for the RT-PCR tests at 495,000 rupiahs for the islands of Java and Bali, and 525,000 rupiahs for the areas outside the two islands.

The government decided to cut the RT-PCR test prices following debates about the prices of the COVID-19 tests in the country, which were considered too expensive.

The Directorate General of Health Services has issued a regulation concerning the prices for RT-PCR tests which have been effective from Aug. 17.

Director General of Health Services Abdul Kadir said the new prices of the RT-PCR tests were set together with the Financial and Development Supervisory Agency.

“From the evaluation results, we agree that the highest price for RT-PCR examinations is lowered to 495,000 rupiahs for Java and Bali islands, and 525,000 rupiahs for outside Java and Bali islands,” he said at a virtual press conference in Jakarta on Aug. 16.

State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Kimia Farma has decided to reduce the prices of RT-PCR and Antigen tests to meet the regulation.

Currently, the company’s most expensive COVID-19 testing price is 495,000 rupiahs for RT-PCR and 125,000 rupiahs for antigen.

“This will make it easier for the public to have COVID-19 tests, which will lead to an overall improvement in Indonesia’s health climate,” the company’s President Director Verdi Budidarmo said.

Agus Chandra, acting president director of PT Kimia Farma Diagnostika (PT Kimia Farma’s business unit) said his company would follow the president’s instruction to lower the prices of the RT-PCR tests as much as possible.

“In addition to lowering the price of the RT-PCR test to 495,000 rupiahs, we also reduced the price of antigen swab to 85,000 rupiahs for the regular type of device and for the Abbot Panbio brand it falls to 125,000 rupiahs,” he said.

However, several health facilities including hospitals in the country have yet to follow the president’s instruction to lower the prices of the RT-PCR tests to detect COVID-19.

House Speaker Puan Maharani on Friday asked all health facilities including hospitals to follow the rules set by the government as this decision is part of the government efforts to strengthen test for COVID-19.

“All health facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, must comply with these rules,” Maharani said, calling on the government to give warnings or sanctions to those health facilities defying the rules.