Free tests promised by the government are failing in the field – ZAP

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Ina Fassbender / AFP

Several pharmacies report technical failures that prevent the free sale of rapid antigen tests, 100% subsidized by the State.

According to the newspaper Expresso, a computer problem in the software used by pharmacies is making it difficult for them to register the rapid antigen tests reimbursed by the State at 100%.

this causes it is not possible to sell free trials, a measure announced by the Government and which entered into force on 1 July.

According to the most recent numbers from Infarmed, there are 189 participating pharmacies to this service throughout the country, but there are flaws in the system that are preventing the billing of reimbursed tests.

“There was a computer problem. Today [terça-feira] they were doing a system check to make everything operational, until we were without a system for half an hour, but in the end there was another error, so we still couldn’t do the reimbursement tests because we can’t issue the reimbursement notification”, explained the responsible for a pharmacy, in statements to the weekly.

Another participating pharmacy detailed that the difficulty of the system to identify and confirm that the patient meets the requirements necessary for the test to be 100% reimbursed — for the test to be free, the user cannot have the complete vaccination schedule or have been infected in the last 180 days.

As this does not happen, the pharmacist cannot launch “the reimbursement in the system” to bill the test as free for the user.

To deal with the problem, there are opting pharmacies for continuing to sell the test to old price (15 to 30 euros). This is the case of a pharmacy in Évora, whose employee explained to Expresso that they cannot risk losing money due to current IT problems.

“The computer system does not allow us to make this price [€10 comparticipados pelo Estado], so we are charging the normal test price, which is €24.90”, he explained.

Other establishments, even without guarantees, comply with the agreement with the State and do not charge money for tests reimbursed to users who meet the requirements, keeping the declarations of honor in physical format in order to introduce the documentation into the system as soon as it is operational.

“I am confident that the system will work because we continue to have high demand, especially on weekends,” said the clinical director of a pharmacy in the district of Aveiro.

“[O sistema] it’s not working, period. We are contributing, keeping the honor commitments, because we are trusting the State. We were told the issue will be resolved tomorrow [terça-feira]”, summarized a pharmacy in the Algarve.

However, the pharmacies that Expresso contacted were still unable to register the reimbursed tests this Tuesday and there are those who have decided leave the list of adherents.

“When the government decree came out, we signed up. But we realized that the system [informático] it wasn’t implemented yet, because it still doesn’t allow billing for reimbursed tests. Therefore, on Monday we had the initiative to communicate to Infarmed the intention to leave the list of participating pharmacies”, said to Expresso a manager of four pharmacies, who declined to be identified.

“The ordinance came out on the 1st [de julho], but the next day there was no information about it. [como a medida iria funcionar na prática]. We were taken by surprise, we only know what came out in the media”, he lamented.

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