Drilon questions PhilHealth price tag on COVID-19 test package

Drilon questions PhilHealth price tag on COVID-19 test package

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday questioned the P8,150 amount to be shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) under one of its COVID-19 test packages.

“PhilHealth has a package of P8,150 for the test, I think this is a little overpriced,” Drilon raised during the Senate hearing on the status of the government’s COVID-19 response.

Drilon warned that the said cost may lead to an “unnecessary depletion” of PhilHealth’s resources.

He pointed out that private organizations, like the Philippine Red Cross, can offer COVID-19 tests for a much lower price.

“It just gives a very high margin, if I may call it, to hospitals who would be getting P8,000 when in fact Red Cross has shown they can, they could make it viable by about P4,000,” Drilon said.

Responding to the senator’s inquiry, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained that the cost of PhilHealth’s COVID-19 tests packages, which range from P2,710 to P8,150, would depend on how the accredited testing laboratories procured the testing kits.

“If testing was not paid for by the DOH (Department of Health) and the test kit used was not donated—which means that the laboratory had spent for all of the cost—it would be about P8,150 per test. If the testing was not paid for by the DOH but the test kit was donated…P5,450 per test. So it’s variable. It changes,” he added.

Meanwhile, the cost of the COVID-19 test would amount to P2,710 if the testing was paid for by DOH and test kit was donated, Duque further noted.

Drilon then proposed that the P8,150 PhilHealth COVID-19 test package be reviewed.

“The UP test kits cost about P2,000 and the one from China is but P1,500. Assuming that there is a corresponding service fee for the conduct of the testing consisting of the salaries of the technicians, etc., this is plotted at about P2,000 or a total of anywhere from 3,500 to P4,000. That is why the Red Cross package is within that cost,” the senator pointed out.

“But P8,000 for PhilHealth?…You start to wonder. I hope this can be reviewed,” he added.

The health chief then assured the Senate that it would have the said PhilHealth package “immediately” reviewed.

Duque added that it would send a report on the matter to the chamber later in the week.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed in the country.

Of the number, 2,843 have so far recovered while 837 have died from the disease.