Initially, the National Health Fund paid hospitals 450 PLN for each test. Then the head of the Fund issued an order to reduce the reimbursement rate to 400 PLN in the case of a test using reagents, which the laboratory bought itself, and 200 PLN - when the test is carried out using reagents purchased by any state institution. We have previously reported in "Wyborcza" that this was a very high price compared to other countries. The average cost of performing one test is estimated at 45 $ in the US and € 40 in Europe. German health insurance funds pay 59 euros to hospitals.
The Ministry of Health has been reassuring the public opinion for several weeks that it is analyzing the case. A study commissioned by the Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Tariffs led to the establishment of a new rate. After the change it amounts to PLN 280 for the test and the reagents and PLN 140 for conducting the test using reagents received from the state.
- PLN 280 amounts to a rate below our costs. Private laboratories will probably withdraw from testing or will bill hospitals at the previous rate - says Michał Milczarek, operational director at ALAB Laboratoria.
Others, however, point out that testing is not so expensive anymore. New producers are appearing on global markets and reagent prices have dropped significantly. Their quality, though, is another matter.
Three-gene tests are the golden standard. In "Wyborcza" we revealed that a month ago, one million such tests were offered by Pro-Salus together with equipment that allows examination of up to 60 thousand tests per day. One test was priced at about PLN 130, but the Ministry of Health rejected the offer. Despite this, Pro-Salus made another one. This time, the company offered to sell the reagent kits alone at PLN 45 per unit. The Ministry of Health, however, refused to negotiate. The procedure of purchasing tests announced on March 23 has recently been extended to May 24. The ministry has not yet answered our question concerning the procurement process, including the companies involved, and the type and the number of tests it has bought or contracted for the future.
Since the purchase of tests is no longer as difficult as a month ago, the Ministry of Health does not intend to continue to block the use of commercial tests by the general public. However, it is considering setting a maximum price for such an examination. The special legislative act on combating Covid-19 gives the Minister of Health the necessary tools to introduce price control mechanisms. However, the Ministry does not reveal how much such a rate could be. It is also unclear whether it will ultimately decide to engage in price control. We have unofficially learned that the Ministry has been discussing the introduction of the maximum price for masks over an extended period of time, yet so far no decision was made on the matter.
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