Private hospitals, labs to charge Rs 3,899 for PCR test


Private hospitals have fixed their own rate for conducting polymerase chain reaction tests, saying that the fee allocated by the Ministry of Health and Population was too less.

Eight private hospitals and labs, including HAMS Hospital, Star Hospital, B&B Hospital and Nepal Mediciti Hospital, issued a joint press release today, stating that they would charge Rs 3,899 for a PCR test.

On September 14, the government had decreased the fee for polymerase chain reaction test from Rs 4,400 to Rs 2,000.

The Health Emergency Operation Centre had issued a directive to all the laboratories conducting PCR test to charge Rs 2,000 per test as per the decision taken by the Incident Command System meetings held in the presence of Minister of Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal on September 14.

On August 31, the government had slashed the fee for PCR tests to Rs 4,400 from Rs 5,500.

“We can’t conduct PCR test at the rate fixed by the government.

We need to follow World Health Organisation guidelines while testing samples for COVID-19.

We need high-end equipment and medical supplies,” said Bijay Rimal, executive director at Nepal Mediciti Hospital.

“Government hospitals can charge a lower fee as they don’t need to invest in staff salaries.

The government has also bought reagents and viral transport medium at cheaper rates. We have to buy the same equipment and other stuff at much higher price from the black market. We also need to test samples of our staff free of cost. We can’t conduct tests charging the amount fixed by the government. The government didn’t consult us on PCR test fee,” Rimal added.

Nepal Mediciti tests about 50 to 100 samples per day.

A press release issued by private hospitals and laboratories states, “The Ministry of Health and Population and private labs and hospitals complement each other. Discussions are being held with the government authorities on revising PCR test fee.”

“We have not been able to purchase personal protective equipment, gloves and other medical equipment necessary for a PCR test at lower rates. If we are forced to test samples at the fee fixed by the government, it would be unsustainable,” said Shail Rupakheti, managing director at Star Hospital.

Assistant Spokesperson for the health ministry Samir Kumar Adhikari, however, claimed that the decision to charge Rs 2,000 for a PCR test was taken in consultation with private laboratory operators and hospitals.

“When other private laboratories and hospitals are charging the fee fixed by the government, why can’t these eight labs do so?” wondered Adhikari.

He added, “If they can’t test samples for the price fixed by the government, then they must give us a convincing reason. They can’t fix the fee on their own,” Adhikari added.

Feature image: File

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.