Some have to pay for tests

New Zealand is fast approaching 1200 confirmed cases. Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Some patients are being asked to cover the cost of a Covid-19 test done by their local GP.

Many doctors are charging for the test under certain circumstances, despite Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield saying at a press conference last month no-one should be charged for a Covid-19 test or consultation.

Aurora Medical Centre doctor Jill McIlraith said the practice did not charge patients for a Covid-19 test if that was their main reason for going to the doctor.

"However, if they came for something else and then want a Covid swab as an extra, we don’t charge for doing the Covid swab but do charge for the consultation.

"We explain this to patients."

She said the cost of a swab when relating to employment or travel — and not because of symptoms — was $200, as the centre needed to cover the cost of the swab ($120), plus the cost of personal protective equipment and a non-funded consultation.

Amity Health Centre doctor Susie Lawless said the centre was also charging for the cost of a test, if it was related to employment or travel.

"We’ve got a couple of people going overseas [who] require a Covid swab to show they’re negative".

"For everyone else there is no charge."

While she did not know the exact cost, a lab charge and a consult charge applied to the test.

However, the Southern District Health Board says some people should not be tested at all.

SDHB medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack said it would not be testing asymptomatic people in the community, even if they had been requested to have a test by their employer, "as we need to dedicate our testing and laboratory resources to those with symptoms."

WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said the Ministry of Health determined the case definition and testing criteria for Covid-19.

"Testing is free of charge for anyone meeting the criteria, which at present includes those with symptoms, anyone who has had contact with a confirmed or probable case and a number of other criteria.

"According to ministry guidelines, it is appropriate that those needing a test and a medical certificate for travel purposes, etc are charged for their Covid-19 assessment and swabbing."

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