News

PCR tests: Varying prices at pvt. hospitals

Prices vary due to operational costs: APHNH 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Despite a maximum price of Rs. 6,500 being set for the PCR tests, four approved private hospitals have exceeded the relevant prices, it is revealed.

Nevertheless, as learnt by The Morning, the price of a PCR test in different private hospitals varied between Rs. 6,500 and Rs. 8,800. It is also learnt that some PCR tests are conducted for those who are returning to Sri Lanka from a foreign country at a cost of nearly Rs. 19,000. 
The reason for the variation of these prices from one hospital to another is mainly due to the addition of the cost for the other services along with the test that they provide for the patient, it is learnt.
In May, the Ministry of Health gave permission for five private hospitals to conduct PCR tests under strict guidelines. In addition, strict guidelines have also been issued by the Ministry, including informing about the patient prior to the test and the results of each test.
Hospitals should follow all Covid-19-related guidelines and they were not allowed to give publicity for Covid-19-related activities at hospitals. In addition, the hospitals should also follow a mechanism to trace the history of all patients.
However, it issued guidelines, capping the cost of sample testing by private labs at Rs. 6,000, but the cost cap is yet to be gazetted. The price was decided after discussing with the private hospitals but it was merely a verbal agreement.
When contacted by The Morning, Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes (APHNH)  President Dr. Lakith Peiris said the reason for the cost variation was mainly the varying operational costs of different hospitals.
The operating costs of different machines vary and the operating cost is dependent on the type, size, and various other conditions of the machine, he stressed. 
“If you have a large capacity machine and you want to generate reports quickly, but you don’t feed the machine with its full capacity, then the operating cost naturally goes up. As an example, if the machine can do 300 in one go and there are only 50 samples, the operating cost will be more. That can be one reason,” Dr. Peiris noted.