Without reimbursement of self-tests, critics say following Covid guidelines becomes expensive

Without reimbursement of self-tests, critics say following Covid guidelines becomes expensive
Illustration image. Credit: Belga

Solidaris, Test Achats and the Ligue des familles are calling on the Belgian government to reconsider its decision not to extend the conditions of reimbursement for self-tests for Covid-19 to the whole population.

They’re also asking the government to regulate the prices of such tests, Belga News Agency reports.

The new testing and quarantine strategy the government came up with this week includes the use of self-tests for some quarantine releases. Additionally, parents are encouraged to test their school-age children at least once a week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in schools.

A cost burden to follow official guidelines

Self-tests – which cost between €3 and €8 – are currently only partially reimbursed for beneficiaries of the increased intervention.

“For a family with two children, following the authorities’ recommendation costs between €24 and €64 per month,” consumer organisation Test Achats said. “This cost is in addition to the cost of masks, hand sanitizer gels, etc., which Test Achats calculated last June could be well in excess of €40 per month.”

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The mutual insurance association Solidaris also said they found the fact that the conditions for such reimbursements have not been extended regretful.

While the government argues that the sale of self-tests in supermarkets does not allow for their reimbursement by health insurance, Solarius pointed out that “several European countries and the United States have democratised access to them by ensuring that they are free of charge or by providing for reimbursement by health insurance, without the sale of these tests in retail outlets being an obstacle to this improved financial accessibility.”

Controls on pricing of self-tests in retail stores

The Ligue des familles, Test Achats, the Réseau wallon de lutte contre la pauvreté and the Fédération des associations de parents de l’enseignement officiel (Fapeo) all agree that governments should take their testing strategy to its logical conclusion and make the tests available free of charge.

At the very least, the organisations are asking the government to act to bring down the price of self-tests.

“For example, in France, where a maximum price of €5.2 has been set, self-tests can already be found at €1.2 per piece,” Test Achats pointed out.

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