We recently reported that COVID-19 tests were being offered free across Romania, for people who were experiencing symptoms of the virus, however, despite the tests being free, people report that pharmacies are charging them.
Stiri de Cluj reported that the reason for these charges, are not for the actual COVID-19 tests themselves, as they have been provided by the Ministry of Health for free, but instead, they are charging for their time and protective equipment that they use to administer the tests, as the state does not reimburse them.
“The tests are free, the testing costs 60 lei”
According to the report published by Stiri de Cluj, one such example was at Farmacia Panaceea, located on at Strada Donath 15, in the Grigorescu neighbourhood of Cluj-Napoca. The pharmacy is on the approval list, issued by the Ministry of Health, for receiving the free tests, which are paid for by the state. Farmacia Panaceea were reported to have told a reader of Stiri de Cluj, who subsequently raised this with the news site, that the pharmacy was going to charge him 60 lei.
The conversation reads:
- Staff: Yes, the tests are free, the testing costs 60 lei.
- Client: Can I take the test at home? Can't we take the test there and test ourselves at home?
- Staff: No, you don't know how to test yourself. How do you know? Are you a doctor? Do you have training?
- Client: I'm a medical assistant.
- Staff: How to test yourself at home?
- Client: Isn't it from the throat?
- Staff: Wait a minute. (the phone was picked up by another pharmacy employee)
- Staff: Hello! You can buy tests and do it at home if you want. It is 20 lei a test. DSP tests cannot be issued to you because they are in the pharmacy testing program. The test is free, you pay for the test service, our work, our equipment, because the state does not settle these things.
- Client: Is the 20 lei test the same as the free test?
- Staff: No. It's another test, but it's still nasopharyngeal and you can do it at home, but it's not considered an official test, meaning you can't testify at your DSP. You can do it for your own science, to see if you are positive or not.
The entire conversation can be heard (in Romanian) via Stiri de Cluj, included below.
The pharmacy announced, at the end of September that any tests in their pharmacy would be at a cost.
“What does rapid covid antigen testing contain?
It contains a test (given by the Ministry of Health) + a pharmacist who has to wear protective equipment and do the actual testing + a person who spends time issuing the test report and reporting it to the DSP.
Neither the equipment, nor the time of the pharmacists involved, nor the potential risk of infection are quantified and settled by the Ministry of Health.
This is the reason why, in the pharmacy testing program, the patient does not pay for the test itself but pays for the value of the test service.
We hope that all those interested in contacting us for this service understand the effort made by us, in order to facilitate and bring close to them the possibility of rapid testing“
According to Stiri de Cluj, after the announcement of the free tests, some pharmacies increased the price for testing by up to 99 lei.