“No South African should be paying that price for a PCR test.”
This was the statement from Progressive Health Forum convenor Aslam Dasoo to Newzroom Afrika — referring to the R850 or more private labs charge for Covid–19 PCR tests.
Dasoo said over 50% of PCR tests had been done in the private sector.
“That amount, at over R850 for 10 million tests [or thereabouts] comes to roughly R8 billion to R10 billion of income in these last two years just to the three main labs,” he stated.
“That is a huge income, and I’m certain that the profit margin on it is not justifiable – [not] at this point, certainly.”
Dasoo’s comments come several months after the Council for Medical Schemes lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission over the pricing of PCR tests by private labs.
“Your medical scheme has got an agreement with the service provider for a fixed price. They’ve budgeted for that, and they’re paying for that,” Dasoo said.
“However, it’s a medical scheme, and it should not have to pay excessive prices.”
Health minister Joe Phaahla recently told Parliament that they would be joining the complaint, TimesLive reported.
Phaahla said there is no reason the price for private tests should still be R850, given the huge demand for the service.
“The department has no idea why the test for Covid–19 still costs R850 per unit despite the volumes, scale and technological advances in this area,” Phaahla stated.
While the Council for Medical Schemes lodged its complaint weeks ago, the Competition Commission still does not know when it will be ready to rule on the matter.
“The Commission is engaged in an active and ongoing investigation of the matter, but at this stage, we are in no position to confirm when an outcome would be reached,” Competition Commission spokesperson Siya Makunga told Newzroom Afrika.
“We can assure the public that we are expediting the investigation in light of the prevailing and current circumstances of Covid–19.”