Your company may not be offering COVID tests because of the cost, not whether they're available, new study finds

Your company may not be offering COVID tests because of the cost, not whether they're available, new study finds
A nurse prepares to swab a patient at a COVID-19 testing center on July 7, 2020 in Texas.Sergio Flores/Getty Images
  • 28% of facilities surveyed by Arizona State University that were not testing workers for coronavirus cited cost as the main reason why.
  • Smaller companies were more likely to cite cost for lack of testing, while larger companies said testing on a large scale was a prohibiting factor.
  • PCR tests are the most accurate, but they require laboratory processing and can cost over $100 to process, according to The New York Times.
  • Most companies do not have widespread testing procedures in place, even as cases rise.

As coronavirus cases rise across the country, employers are reluctant to provide coronavirus tests because of the price, not availability, according to results from a survey conducted by Arizona State University and World Economic Forum.

28% of the facilities that were not testing at all cited cost as the main reason why. The second most-cited reason for not testing was the complexity associated with the process, at 22%. There is also a higher associated cost with higher testing accuracy. PCR tests are considered the most accurate, but require laboratory processing that can cost around $100, according to The New York Times.
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1,141 facilities at 1,125 companies worldwide were a part of the survey, which ran from September through October. The results are from 29 countries spanning 23 industries.

It's worth noting that cost was the most-cited testing obstacle with smaller companies. Larger companies were more likely to cite the hurdles of testing en masse for their lack of testing, with 33% of large companies giving that reason.

The more employees a company has, the more likely they are to test, according to the study. Of the companies surveyed, only 8% of companies with 25 employees or less were testing, while companies with 5,000 workers or more were testing around 60% of the time.
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One of the biggest discrepancies between how the US and international companies were handling testing came in the form of contact tracing. In the US, only 37% of companies surveyed were conducting any sort of contact tracing, while overseas, that number was over half.

"A number of countries outside the United States have national contact-tracing systems, apps that are highly recommended or in some countries required for all adults to download," Mara Aspinall, a professor at Arizona State's College of Health Solutions who helped oversee the study, told The New York Times. "Clearly that isn't the case here." Only a few companies, including Kroger, have rolled out widespread coronavirus testing procedures.
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