April 16, 2003
The medical care price index increased 5.0 percent in 2002, the highest calendar-year increase since 1993.
For the fifth year in a row, the rate of medical care inflation was higher than in the preceding year. Medical care prices paid by consumers rose 4.7 percent in 2001.
Larger price increases for hospital services and dental services in 2002 were partially offset by smaller price increases for prescription drugs, internal and respiratory over-the-counter drugs, physician services, and eyeglasses and eye care.
Medical care services fees rose 5.6 percent, versus 4.8 percent in 2001. The acceleration in this index in 2002 was principally due to a bigger increase in the hospital and related services index, which rose 9.8 percent, the highest calendar-year increase since 1990. Outpatient hospital services prices rose 12.7 percent, following a 6.8-percent increase in 2001. Inpatient hospital services prices rose 9.4 percent in 2002, after rising 6.9 percent during the prior year.
The index for prescription drugs and medical supplies increased 4.5 percent last year, compared with 6.0 percent in 2001. Most of the slowdown in the growth of this index was due to patent losses on many name-brand drugs in the CPI sample.
These data are from the BLS Consumer Price Index program. Annual percent changes are December-to-December changes. Details on the calculation of the medical care CPI are in Measuring Price Change for Medical Care in the CPI. For additional information on consumer price changes in 2002, see "Consumer prices up slightly more in 2002, led by energy and hospital services," by Todd Wilson, Monthly Labor Review, March 2003.