Health Prices Outpace Other Consumer Prices

Today’s release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicates that prices of health services are outpacing other consumer goods and services by a multiple. From February to March, the seasonally adjusted CPI increased 0.2 percent. Medical care services overall increased at twice that rate, 0.4 percent, while physicians’ and hospital services both increased by 0.6 percent.

Year on year, the situation is even worse. The CPI showed slight deflation of minus 0.1 percent, while prices of medical care services have increased 1.9 percent, physicians’ services 1.7 percent and hospital services a startling 3.4 percent.

With respect to health goods, price increases might be tapering. Although prices of medical care commodities increased 4.2 percent, year on year, they only increased 0.1 percent last month. Nonprescription drugs, medical equipment, and medical supplies actually had small decreases in prices last month.

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