The US Department of Labor (DoL) released Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers for December, that reveal the cost of medical services continues to increase. Compared to November’s 0.6% increase , last month’s rise was modest. However, when measured against last December, medical costs have increased 5.0%.
Contributing to the rise was the increase in hospital services, up 0.6% in December and 10.2% since the same month last year. The largest increases were seen in:
- Outpatient hospital service: up 0.6% in December; an increase of 12.7% since December 2001
- Inpatient hospital services: up 0.7% in December; up 9.4% since December 2001
Professional services also saw price increases in December of 0.4%, a rise of 3.2% since December 2001. Included in this increase were physician services, up 0.4% in December, a rise of 3.3% since December 2001. Also adding to the bite of higher professional service costs were dental service prices, up 0.3% in December and 4.5% for the previous 12 months.
The medical care commodities index, a measure of prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and medical supplies showed virtually no change in December, increasing less that one-tenth of one percent. However, the number was still greater, albeit slightly, than November and is up 3.2% from December 2001 levels.
Components of the care commodities index also showed increases in December:
- Prescription drugs and medical supplies rose a very modest 0.1%; up 4.5% since December 2001
- Nonprescription drugs and medial supplies increased 0.5%; however, this component was also one of the few to be down for the year. Declining 0.5% since December 2001.
Overall, the non-seasonally adjusted December CPI recorded a decrease of 0.2%, its first decrease since the same period last year. The continued rise in medical care costs was offset by the second consecutive month of energy price declines, down 0.4% in December.