“As the state further caps the cost of Covid detection test at Rs 1,500, we will be implementing it as per the directive, given that these are pandemic times. However, we would also like to present our case before the government to reconsider the rate as this is not financially viable for us, taking into account the cost of re-agent, test kit and infrastructure. Contrary to popular belief, private hospitals have been suffering losses for the last eight months and this will further affect our condition,” said AMRI Hospitals group CEO Rupak Barua.
It would be barely manageable to conduct tests at this price, said Medica Superspecialty Hospital chairperson Alok Roy. “Considering the emergency, we are ready to give it a shot. But one must remember that we have to buy the test kit for Rs 750 which is just the base cost. Add the overheads and the final cost is higher,” said Roy.
A circular capping the cost of RT-PCR test at Rs 1,201 on October 1 had created a flutter among private hospitals, many of whom felt that the amount was below the expenses they incur on testing a sample. The order was kept on hold as senior state health department officials felt that that it would make private labs incur losses. “We are yet to get a formal notification. But if the state has announced it, we are ready to comply with the order,” said Somnath Chatterjee, MD Suraksha Diagnostics.
It would be difficult to manage at Rs 1,500, felt Peerless Hospital CEO Sudipta Mitra. “But it is a pandemic situation and we would comply with the government directive. Our humble appeal to the government is to try and reduce the price of test kits by talking to suppliers or manufacturers at administrative level,” said Mitra.
“We are supportive of the directive to reduce Covid test since recently the price of Truenat kit has come down to Rs 1,150. But, we use GenXpert kit which continues to be higher at Rs 3,110. I request government to intervene and bring the GeneXpert kit costs at par with Truenat so that hospitals are prepared to perform more number of tests using both RT-PCR methods,” said Rupali Basu, MD & CEO, Woodlands
Many private labs had installed new RT-PCR machines during pandemic. They said in addition to machines, re-agents, viral mode transport costs and other disposable items, electricity and manpower for running the labs involve a huge cost.