Chongqing- The charge for the COVID-19 antigen testing is capped at 15 yuan (about 2.36 U.S. dollars) per person, which was officially implemented from March 20, according to the released Notice on Setting the Price of the COVID-19 Antigen Testing by the Chongqing Medical Insurance Bureau.
There are three types of tests available to detect whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has invaded a human body, including nucleic acid testing, antigen testing, and antibody testing. The first two are methods of direct detection of viruses.
Antigen testing can be performed faster and easier than nucleic acid testing but is less accurate. It is generally used to detect the virus in the early stages of infection.
COVID-19 antigen tests typically involve a swab of the patient's nose and throat. This sample is then analyzed using the same underlying processes as a pregnancy test.
Results are typically available within 15 to 30 minutes of the sample being analyzed, meaning a patient on-site may have their results before leaving.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries, while recognizing nucleic acid testing as the "gold standard" for COVID-19 testing, have also promoted antigen testing as an effective supplement to help control the spread of the pandemic.
According to a notice published on the National Health Commission's website, positive results in antigen testing can be used as a standard for early triage and rapid management of suspected COVID-19 cases, and the medical product administrations must approve the selection of antigen testing reagents.
Chongqing has added a new price item for the COVID-19 antigen testing to respond more effectively to changes in the epidemic situation and further improve early detection capability.
Public medical institutions charge in accordance with the method of testing price item plus testing reagent. If the total cost exceeds 15 yuan/person, the actual charge will be capped at 15 yuan/person, and non-public medical institutions are also encouraged to follow suit.
According to the notice, public medical institutions that simply conduct antigen testing shall not charge outpatient examination fees (including general diagnosis and treatment fees), and patients who conduct self-testing shall not charge additional fees for COVID-19 antigen testing.
Public medical institutions should publicize the price of COVID-19 antigen testing in a prominent position, provide services to patients, and charge fees according to regulations and regulated pricing.
Furthermore, the antigen reagents required by public medical institutions should be purchased and traded through the platform of the Chongqing Drug Exchange, where enterprises should apply for listing on the Chongqing Drug Exchange platform in accordance with regulations, said the relevant person in charge of the Chongqing Medical Insurance Bureau.
The Chongqing Medical Insurance Bureau will regularly carry out price monitoring and cooperate with relevant departments to carry out law-enforcement inspections.
(Shi Jiaqi, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)
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