Consumer prices for hospital services slid in January, producing a rare drop in the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for the sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said consumer hospital prices fell 0.2% last month, only the fifth time the index has recorded a one-month price decline in the 14 years of available data.
Consumers see dip in hospital prices
The hospital CPI measures the prices paid out-of-pocket by households but also captures insurance payments for plans that require patients to pay at least some of their bill through deductibles, copayments or co-insurance. Hospital consumer prices rose in December by 0.8% and climbed faster than average last year. In January 2010, the hospital CPI increased 0.4%.
For the 12-month period ended last month, the hospital Consumer Price Index increased 7% compared with 7.6% the prior year.
Inpatient hospital consumer prices were flat in January and outpatient prices dropped 0.1% that month.
For physician services, consumer prices increased 0.1% in January, the same rate as December, the seasonally adjusted figures show. In January 2010, consumer prices for physician services increased 0.9%. For the year that ended in January, the physician CPI climbed 2.6% after the prior year's 3.3% gain.
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