Government sets price range for COVID-19 tests

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 25) — The Philippine government has set a price range for RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests for COVID-19 in the country following complaints of exorbitant rates charged on clients.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said the range for these tests in private hospitals and laboratories is set from ₱4,500 to ₱5,000. Public facilities are only allowed to charge ₱3,800 for a swab test.

The Health and Trade departments signed a joint administrative order setting the price band on Tuesday following an executive order from President Rodrigo Duterte. Duque said the price range was crafted after a thorough market survey, adding it is subject to change during monthly reviews.

Duque said private facilities are allowed to charge cheaper than the set floor price but they cannot exceed ₱5,000 — even for rush test results. He urged the private sector not to abuse the range set by the government by charging too close to the price ceiling.

"Hindi maganda na nagkaroon ka nga ng range tapos itotodo nila sa allowable ceiling... Pwedeng bumaba sila sa ating doon, sa ating price ceiling pero huwag silang lalampas doon," he said in a media forum.

[Translation: It's not nice that we have a price range but you will charge the allowable ceiling. They can charge less but not more.]

Hospitals and laboratories found violating the test price cap will face fines of up to P30,000 and license suspension of up to a month, Duque said. Their license, he added, will be revoked if they are found violating three times.

Duque also said they will also study putting a price cap on test kits and on antigen testing.