Competition Commission Investigates Why Covid19 Tests Are Expensive, Health Department Denies Responsibility

Competition Commission Investigates Why Covid19 Tests Are Expensive, Health Department Denies Responsibility

  • The Competition Commission has launched an investigation into Covid-19 test prices in the private healthcare sector
  • Covid-19 tests costs R850 each at most private healthcare facilities despite an increased demand and supply
  • The health department fears that the price of Covid-19 tests could result in disadvantaged people not getting tested

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PRETORIA - The Competition Commission is investigating why the price of Covid-19 tests has not gone down since the beginning of the pandemic, despite technological advances in the field and increased demand.

This investigation follows a complaint by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), which was joined by the health department. A Covid-19 test in the private sector costs R850, which the CMS and health minister Joe Phaala believe could deter people who are experiencing symptoms from being tested.

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The CMS and the health department were asked by Parliament why the price has not dropped, to which Phaala replied that neither entity is involved in setting the price of Covid-19 tests. The private sector is legally allowed to set their own prices, TimesLIVE reports.

Covid-19, coronavirus, Omicron, Joe Phaala, health department, Covid-19 testing, testing prices, Competition Commission
Covid-19 test prices have not decreased as demand has increased, causing the Competition Commission to launch an investigation. Image: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Why Covid-29 test prices have remained stagnant

Covid-19 test prices remain high, despite some facilities decreasing the prices they charge. Ampath is one such laboratory, as they charge R710 instead of the R850 charged by most other laboratories, such as Pathcare.

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Public sector health facilities conduct Covid-19 tests for free, but statistics show that more South Africans prefer private testing. The health department thinks this could be a result of disadvantaged people not being aware of free testing facilities, thereby causing only people who can afford private fees to be tested.

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Siyabulela Makunga​, a spokesperson for the Competition Commission, confirmed that the investigation has been launched and vowed that they have accelerated the course of the probe, but can not yet say when they will reach their conclusion.

South Africa reacts to Covid-19 test prices

@bukiswa asked:

"How much do they think it should be? R850 for a PCR test is fair."

@IamHaskin said:

"To test is R850, but the vaccine itself is free."

@nkuna_alton shared:

"After paying the R850 I felt robbed."

@anthea_campbell believes:

"It should be free to ensure tests are done. To have tests at this price is unacceptable and my guess, why so many are not getting tested. Health first, profits later NOT the other way round. NOT everyone has medical aid nor cash lying around."

@AlphonseGabri18 said:

"This should be free."

Ramaphosa calls for calm as Covid cases continue to skyrocket

Yesterday, Briefly News reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa told South Africans that they do not need to panic in the face of rising Covid 19 infections.

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He told citizens that although the Omicron variant is more contagious there was not an increase in hospitalisations.

Ramaphosa said that there was no need to panic and scientists were working hard to study the new variant.

Source: Briefly News

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