Wholesale prices for general medical and surgical hospital services took their biggest monthly jump in three years in January, rising 0.8%. Prices were up 4.4% from the 12 months earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Producer Price Index. Government payers bore the brunt of the increase; prices in January rose 1.9% for Medicaid patients, 1% for Medicare beneficiaries and 0.6% for all others. The large monthly increase follows the announcement last month that hospital prices increased 3.4% during 2002, the biggest annual jump since 1995. Prices for physician office services were unchanged in January, from both the previous month and the 12 months earlier. -- by Mary Chris Jaklevic
Wholesale hospital prices rise steeply in January
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