The National Health Fund cut the rates for a single examination by more than half. For laboratories, this is the limit of profitability, and for the entire health care system, fatal news. In the era of a pandemic, testing for the presence of coronavirus is essential. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
First a smear, then an examination in the building next door. Nobody complains about the lack of work in the Innovative Medical Center in Poznań. The work hasn’t changed, but the coronavirus test pricing has changed. It has fallen by more than a half. – In our opinion, this price is too high – believes Prof. Andrzej Pławski from the Institute of Human Genetics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań.
Until now, the NHF paid PLN 280 for the PCR test, and now only PLN 113. For the test after 24 hours, even less, just over PLN 100. – This has led to the fact that many laboratories are unable to perform tests and are unable to meet these costs – emphasizes Dr. Tomasz Anyszek, the representative of the Management Board of Diagnostyka SA.
Estimated costs based on the analysis
The president of the National Health Fund, Filip Nowak, says that the costs were estimated “on the basis of the actual cost drivers that have been thoroughly analyzed by a dedicated agency”.
Journalists asked the Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Tariffs about it. Its analysis showed significant changes in the prices of personal protective equipment, which is no longer a scarce commodity. It also points to a drop in the price of the tests.
However, the diagnosticians still do not know what costs were taken into account. – Were closed systems, so-called rapid tests, separately priced? Because perhaps they were only an open system – says the president of the National Council of Laboratory Diagnosticians Alina Niewiadomska.
Faster PCR tests cost more. The cheaper ones take longer. Many clinicians are concerned that the testing system will become clogged at a lower valuation. – This will translate into a longer waiting time for the test result and can be counted not in hours, but in days. This may translate into not performing quick tests by hospitals, which will result in queues at the emergency departments – warns Dr. Anyszek.
The Ministry of Health allows more laboratories for testing
The spokesman of the Ministry of Health, Wojciech Andrusiewicz, said on January 10 that “the lobby of companies that performed the tests raised a scream that the tests would not be profitable to perform”. “Meanwhile, nothing happened,” he added.
The pricing of gene tests has also changed. It is less than PLN 36. Last year, the National Health Fund paid twice as much. – If it turns out that the tests are unprofitable, I will not be able to test a patient with symptoms indicative of COVID-19 and make an appropriate diagnosis at this point – points out Dominik Lewandowski, vice president of the College of Family Physicians.
The Ministry of Health assures that the popularity of testing this year will be much greater, as more laboratories will be allowed to do so. – Monitoring and observation of what to do next are ongoing and it is a matter of a month how the system will receive this information – announces Niewiadomska.
The health minister predicts up to 100,000 infections a day. Virologist prof. Krystyna Bieńkowska-Szewczyk claims that 4-5 times more tests are needed to detect it. – That would be about half a million tests. It seems to me that we do not have such possibilities at all – he adds.
Due to the omicron, Germany can no longer keep up with the analysis of PCR tests and it sometimes has to decide who to prioritize.
Main photo source: PAN in Poznań