GPs will have the right to send directly their patients for PCR tests for Covid-19 from the beginning of November, said the chairman of the Supervisory Board of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Jeni Nacheva, quoted by BNT. According to her, the annex to the National Framework Agreement will be signed by the end of October.
The decision to allow GPs to give referrals for a PCR test if their patients are possibly infected with coronavirus was taken earlier this month. However, the criteria according to which the referrals will be issued are awaited.
Bulgaria is one of the very few countries in the EU where GPs could not provide their patients directly with access to PCR test processed by licensed labs.
At the moment it is not clear whether there will be limits for them. The issue is to be discussed by the Bulgarian Medical Union and the National Health Insurance Fund. It is not calculated how much money will be needed for the implementation of this new rule. It is clear that the funds will be provided from the NHIF budget for 2020.
This is not entirely accepted by GPs themselves. They insist that the financing of the coronavirus tests must be from the state budget and not from the Health Insurance Fund, Dr. Kostadin Sotirov, chairman of the Association of General Practitioners in Plovdiv, told BNR today.
“Transferring an activity to general practitioners means mass application of this activity among their patients. In this scenario, the tests performed for one day will not be 5 or 6 thousand per day (as it is now with the highest numbers), but will be over 15 thousand per day. This means that large resources are needed. “The HIF does not have these resources, as its budget was determined and allocated last year before the pandemic had begun. To set aside money for testing, this means reducing the cost of other medical activities,” he said.
GPs have other worries. “Our premises will become a breeding ground for the COVID infection, including the physical destruction of GPs activity,” Dr. Georgi Mindov, chairman of the Association of General Practitioners in Sofia, told Btv today. According to him, the only way out is for them to be able to order electronic COVID tests for patients with symptoms.