HOUSTON – The Montgomery County Public Health District sent out some information regarding coronavirus testing in the county and why it is not free.
According to the release, there are a variety of reasons why officials have not been able to eliminate the cost of COVID-19 tests.
Lack of tests
The public health district submitted a request to the state for 1,000 test kits in early March, but, following some delay, the district only received six kits, according to the release.
Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management also submitted a request and was told test kits would be made available in August, the county said.
“We certainly contacted our state sources. We first went through the Montgomery County Health District, we did order a thousand to date we received 14. Then we ordered through our OEM another thousand to date, of those we have received 50 for a total of 64,” said said Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough.
Major hospitals in the greater Houston area made a plan to combine their resources and make testing free for Houston proper and the surrounding counties, but again there was a shortage of kits, according to the release. When the kits finally arrived, there were not enough to make testing free in the counties outside of Houston, the county said.
According to the release, the state eventually sent more tests and the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council was able to set up a free location at Butler Stadium in Southwest Houston. This is the primary free testing area for all residents of Southeast Texas who want to get tested.
The Montgomery County Public Health District and the Office of Emergency Management said they have been reaching out to all major suppliers since March 16 but have been told the kits are on backorder. They have not yet received kits.
Reasons for the cost
In order to get test kits, Montgomery County said it has to source them internationally, and those can cost between $30 to $60 per kit.
Healthcare agencies that are charging for the tests have to cover the cost of the kit, plus the cost of the physicians who do the screening and the labs that analyze results, the release said.
“We know this is frustrating for residents of Montgomery County, and we share your frustration,” county officials said. “We will continue to try and secure additional tests for our residents.”
Still want to be tested?
For those who still want to be tested, Montgomery County has set up a hotline so people can call and get help finding a testing center that is right for them.
The county offers centers that go through insurance with no co-pay or other low-cost options for insured patients. According to the release, county staff members are willing to work with people to find a testing center in the area.
The number to call is 936-523-5040. For more information about the Montgomery County Public Health District visit www.mcphd-tx.org.
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