Red Cross lowers cost of COVID test

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    EFFECTIVE tomorrow, the Philippine Red Cross will charge lower for its testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 1 to enable more Filipinos to be tested, Sen. Richard Gordon said yesterday.

    Gordon, who is PRC chairman, said the PRC board approved the cheaper COVID-19 testing after the humanitarian organization successfully bargained with a supplier from China for more lower-priced test kits.

    Under the new pricing, Gordon said the PRC swab test will now cost P3,800 (from P4,000) for private clients, walk-ins, and NAIA inbound passengers, and P4,800 for expedited tests which will have a turnaround time of 12-24 hours.

    He said P3,300 and P3,409 are charged for paying local government units (LGUs) and institutions charged to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth), respectively.

    The current PRC rates are P4,000 per test for private individuals and P3,500 for PhilHealth members and partner LGUs.

    A staff member of Gordon’s office said the price cut had nothing to do with the price ceiling imposed last week by the Department of Health for COVID testing, as the PRC had long planned to lower its COVID-19 testing fees.

    Red Cross has tested at least a million persons as of yesterday in its molecular laboratories all over the country that could accommodate a total of 44,000 tests per day.

    “The lowering of prices would give way to more Filipinos to afford COVID-19 testing and would help stop the spread of the virus,” Gordon said.

    The Department of Health last week set a price range for real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests following complaints of high rates charged to individuals.

    The DOH said the range for tests in private hospitals and laboratories is set from P4,500 to P5,000. Public facilities are allowed to charge only P3,800 per swab test.

    Duque said private facilities are allowed to charge lower than the set floor price but cannot exceed P5,000 even for rush test results.

    Hospitals and laboratories found violating the test price ceiling will be fined up to P30,000 and their license to operate will be suspended up to a month.