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Hospital prices inch higher after nose dive last month

By Melanie Evans
Posted: June 18, 2013 - 1:00 pm ET

Hospital consumer prices barely budged upward last month, just one month after they recorded the largest one-month drop since the federal government began recording the price indices 16 years ago.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer hospital prices climbed 0.1% in May, which followed the 0.7% decline in April. One year ago in May, the agency reported an increase in hospital consumer prices of 0.5%. The figures are part of agency's Consumer Price Index.

In the past year, hospital prices increased only 3.8% compared with 5% growth the prior year.

Inpatient hospital consumer prices accelerated more quickly last month at 0.3% than outpatient consumer prices, which were flat.

Physician consumer prices were flat in May after an increase of 0.4% the prior month. In May 2012, consumer prices for physician services increased 0.3%. For the year that ended last month, consumers saw physician prices increased 2.4% compared with the 1.7% growth the year before.

A second measure of inflation, the BLS Producer Price Index, also saw hospital prices rise slightly last month.

The index for acute-care hospitals captured a 0.1% increase in May after the 0.6% drop in April, the largest one-month decline since January 2004. The figures are preliminary.

In May 2012, the acute care PPI also increased 0.1%.

For the year that ended last month, the acute-care producer price index climbed 1.8% compared with 2.5% the prior year.

The physician produce price index increased 0.1% in May after a 0.2% decline the prior month. In May 2012, the physician office PPI dropped 0.1%. For the year that ended last month, the physician office PPI increased 0.2% compared with 1.4% the year before.

Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans





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