Healthcare Shows Large Increase In CPI

December 17, 2002 ( - The medical care index, a component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 0.6% in November, according to the US Department of Labor (DoL).

The 0.6% increase in the cost of medical care during November, before seasonal adjustments, equals  October’s number and represents a 5.0% increase in medical costs over the past 12 months, representing the largest non-energy increase in any of the CPI categories during this period.  

Contributing to the rise was the high increase in hospital services, up 1.1% in November and 10.0% since November 2001.   The largest increases were seen in:

  • Outpatient hospital service: up 1.4% in November; an increase of 12.9% since November 2001
  • Inpatient hospital services: up 1.12% in November; up 9.1% since November 2001

Professional services saw price increases of 0.3% in November, a rise of 3.1% since November 2001. Included in this increase were physician services, up 0.3% in November, a rise of 3.1% since November 2001 and dental service prices, up 0.2% in November and 4.4% for the previous 12 months.

The medical care commodities index, a measure of prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and medical supplies increased a modest 0.4% for the month, but is up 3.4% from November 2001 levels. 

Components of the care commodities index also showed increases in November:

  • Prescription drugs and medical supplies rose 0.3%; up 4.8% since November 2001
  • Nonprescription drugs and medial supplies increased 0.3%; up 0.2% since November 2001

Overall, the non-seasonally adjusted October CPI climbed a modest 0.1%, its lowest increase since July.   The spike in medical care costs was offset by a decrease in energy prices of 0.2%, the first decrease since May.