Finns living abroad are amazed at the cost of coronation tests in Finland – why is it so expensive?

In Finland, coronatest can easily cost 250 euros, while in neighboring Estonia it is three times cheaper. An expert from THL says this may be due to a more complex laboratory licensing and control system.

Living in France Tuulia Pasanen-Klene with her family decided to visit their home country after a long absence. But there she was in for an unpleasant surprise.

Before the trip to Finland, the whole family made coronate tests to facilitate entry. To return to France, they also needed a test, but instead of a few tens of euros, it cost 240 euros per person. An impressive amount for a family.

– Incredible price. I knew in advance that I would have to pay for the test, but it was a shock to me when it turned out that there were no cheaper alternatives, ”says Tuulia.

And her example is far from the only one. Many Finns living abroad are amazed at the difference in the price of tests in other countries and in Finland.

Barrier to travel

In June, the Consumer Union released a comparative analysis of the prices of coronate tests in various laboratories and healthcare facilities in Finland. Tests, which are often required to enter a particular country, cost from 150 to 267 euros. The Finnish government has decided that only those entering the country will be able to test for free, and for trips abroad, tests are purchased at their own expense.

The Consumer Union compared prices in seven companies. All of them provide an official certificate in at least English, and the final cost is influenced by the method of booking and paying for the test.

The more Europeans get vaccinated, the less frequent travel coronavirus tests will be required. Currently, about a third of Finland’s residents have completed the full course of vaccination. Therefore, says Suvi Aaltonen, a spokesman for Finnair , the high cost of tests in Finnish clinics continues to create a barrier to free travel. vaccinations. Russia, for example, does not recognize foreign vaccines and requires all foreign citizens to have a coronate test. So far, there are only talks about mutual recognition of vaccination certificates between the EU and Russia, but no concrete steps have been taken in this direction yet.

Strict supervision

So why are coronavirus tests so much more expensive in Finland than in other countries? There is no definite answer to this question. Researcher Salla Kiiskinen of the THL Department of Health and Social Development suggests that this is due to stricter rules and requirements for testing organizations.

In Finland, a laboratory must be licensed to conduct a test. The supervisor regularly monitors the operation of the instruments, the cleanliness of the premises and the qualifications of the personnel.

– There is nothing like it in other countries. But we didn’t try to make the system bureaucratic, we wanted to make sure that the result of a laboratory test can be trusted, ”says Kiiskinen.

At the same time, THL has not encountered cases where more liberal rules for laboratories in other European countries resulted in would lead to less reliable test results.

European prices cannot be reached

PR2You, which advertises tests for 120 euros, was not included in the list of the Consumer Union, and even 99 euros for the members of the Finnish Tourist Union. Its director Anssi Mellanen agrees that the cost is due to the difficulty of getting into the Finnish market. He says that in Finland no laboratory will be able to do tests at the same prices as in other European countries.

– If the tests cost 40-50 euros for clients, then it is obvious that the laboratory charges for its work little money. At our purchase prices, this is unrealistic.

As a rule, tourists require a PCR test to enter the country. Some countries, however, recognize antigen tests, which are usually cheaper. The only difference is that they are done faster and must be done no earlier than 24 or 48 hours before the trip.

Finnair has recently started offering antigen tests at an extremely attractive price of 65 euros for the Finnish market. This is half the price of the cheapest antigen test from the Consumer Union benchmarking analysis. The result is ready in two hours, tests must be booked in advance on a special Finnair website, and testing is carried out at the airline’s headquarters near Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

According to Suvi Aaltonen, the company offers tests at cost. In some other countries, the government pays all or at least part of the tests for travelers going abroad, but Finland does not have such a system. Finnair also offers PCR tests, but the price is already 150 euros.

Fast and inexpensive antigen tests are becoming more common in Germany and Spain. There, governments are betting on mass testing so as not to quarantine the entire society again.

In France, so far the main focus is on PCR tests, but they are free for citizens of the country – regardless of the presence of symptoms or the purpose of their use. For tourists, tests were also free at one time. Now this has changed, but they cost adequate money compared to Finland – 49 euros.

On Wednesday, Minister of Economic Development Mika Lintilä (Center) admitted that free tests may soon appear and in Finland. However, he called the introduction of a crown passport, which may be required to visit public places and events, as a condition for this. However, according to Yle, the government has no plans to introduce free tests into the bill.