08 October 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) will meet with various government agencies in the health sector to discuss the possible inclusion of rapid antigen tests in the reimbursable costs of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Undersecretary Ernesto V. Perez, Deputy Director General for Operations, questioned why antigen tests were not included in PhilHealth’s reimbursable costs as they require certification from two government agencies before being distributed for public use.

He said this only adds to the burden of Filipinos who have to shoulder the cost of undergoing antigen tests. According to the Department of Health (DOH), each rapid antigen test should cost not more than P960.

“It has almost been two years since the pandemic tapos ayun pala, until this time, hindi pa rin kasama ang antigen tests sa reimbursable costs,” he said.

“Sana hindi na, let us not give them another requirement, because they have to undergo two agencies’ approval, the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Technology Assessment Council,” he added.

PhilHealth officials said rapid antigen test kits are still undergoing actuarial studies. However, they agreed to participate in the meetings that ARTA will lead to find solutions and further streamline their processes.

Among the agencies that will be invited to the high level meeting are PhilHealth, DOH, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Streamlining of Government Processes (OPASGP).