Clinical laboratory test prices in Zimbabwe: a case of profiteering?
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Cost containment has become a major cause of concern for health insurance companies and laboratory services-the traditional cash cow of hospitals can no longer be milked for institutional profit. In developing countries, studies and data on laboratory test prices are scanty. Measuring and understanding the reasons for the price of laboratory tests may contribute to the development of laboratory tests pricing policies that would ensure their affordability. Although public institutions in most developing countries provide some laboratory tests for free, equipment is often broken down and service unreliable. As a result, patients increasingly have to pay for services in better resourced independent laboratories. Laboratory technology has advanced to the point where high volumes of tests can be handled quickly and cheaply on automated equipment. Regardless of whether the resultant lower costs are passed on to the patient or his insurer, price has taken on new significance to all parties concerned with laboratory testing.