• Revenue Cycle Management
  • COVID-19
  • Reimbursement
  • Diabetes Awareness Month
  • Risk Management
  • Patient Retention
  • Staffing
  • Medical Economics® 100th Anniversary
  • Coding and documentation
  • Business of Endocrinology
  • Telehealth
  • Physicians Financial News
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cardiovascular Clinical Consult
  • Locum Tenens, brought to you by LocumLife®
  • Weight Management
  • Business of Women's Health
  • Practice Efficiency
  • Finance and Wealth
  • EHRs
  • Remote Patient Monitoring
  • Sponsored Webinars
  • Medical Technology
  • Billing and collections
  • Acute Pain Management
  • Exclusive Content
  • Value-based Care
  • Business of Pediatrics
  • Concierge Medicine 2.0 by Castle Connolly Private Health Partners
  • Practice Growth
  • Concierge Medicine
  • Business of Cardiology
  • Implementing the Topcon Ocular Telehealth Platform
  • Malpractice
  • Influenza
  • Sexual Health
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Technology
  • Legal and Policy
  • Money
  • Opinion
  • Vaccines
  • Practice Management
  • Patient Relations
  • Careers

Inflation up 3.1% from January 2023 to last month


Costs for physician services were flat over the last 12 months, but hospitals saw greater price increases.

dollars disintegrate inflation: © SERSOLL - stock.adobe.com

© SERSOLL - stock.adobe.com

Prices are going up, with various costs in health care edging upward from month to month and from last year to now.

On Feb. 13, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the monthly Consumer Price Index Summary for January showing over the last 12 months, prices for all items rose by 3.1%. From December to January, the all-items index rose by 0.3%, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

Year to year, the 3.1% increase was smaller than the 3.4% inflation rate for the 12 months ending in December 2023. Subtracting food and energy costs, inflation was 3.9% for the 12 months ending in January 2024, identical to the rate for the 12 months ending in December 2023. Energy costs were up 4.6% and food prices were up 2.6% for the year ending last month.

Health care prices

Medical care services posted a 0.7% rise from December to January and prices were up 0.6% for the year ending in January 2024. Physician services were almost flat, rising 0.6% from month to month and just 0.1% for the 12 months ending in January.

Dental serves rose 0.4% for the month and 4.8% for the last 12 months. Eyeglasses and eye care was flat for the month and up 2.7% year over year. Services by other medical professionals increased 0.6% for the month and 2.1% for the year.

Hospitals posted larger price hikes, with inpatient services up 1.5% from December to January and 5.9% for the 12 months ending January 2024. Outpatient services were up 2% for the month and 8.3% for the year.

Nursing homes and adult day serves rose by 1.2% for the month and 5% for the year, while care of invalids and elderly at home rose by 1.6% for the month and 6.7% for the year.

Health insurance remained one of the larger variables in year over year comparisons. Prices went up by 1.4% for the month, but were down 23.3% for the 12 months ending in January. The report did not include an explanation about those price changes.

Prescription drug prices dipped by 0.8% for the month and were up 0.4% for the year. Nonprescription drug costs increased 1.1% for the month and 9.2% for the year. Medical equipment and supply prices dropped 1.4% for the month but were up 3.4% for the year, according to the BLS figures.

Political responses

The news caused a drop in U.S. stocks the same day, according to national news reports.

President Joe Biden and Republican critics split over the ramifications of the figures.

The president’s statement focused on wage growth, “the strongest of any economic recovery in 50 years,” with inflation down “two-thirds from its peak, but there’s still work to do to lower costs.”

“That’s why I’m fighting to lower costs for middle class families – from the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs, to eliminating hidden junk fees that companies use to rip you off, to calling on corporations to pass savings on to consumers instead of hiding price increases by shrinking package sizes,” the president’s statement said. “I will continue standing in the way of Congressional Republicans who want to cut taxes for the wealthy and large corporations, raise costs for middle class families, and cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

Republicans slammed the president for “Bidenflation,” noting prices overall were up 17.9% since the president took office.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri) issued a statement referring to the tax policies of former President Donald Trump and supporting the pending “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act.”

“The fact that core inflation remains higher than the topline number is more evidence that ongoing sticker shock is in store for families,” Smith said. “We have heard continually from working families and small businesses about how hard it is to make ends meet today.

“Congress must act as soon as possible to build on the pro-family, pro-growth policies from the Trump tax reforms and give the American people some well-deserved relief from today’s inflation crisis,” he said.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) published a statement, “Bidenomics Brings Higher Inflation: A Majority of Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck Because Of Biden’s Failed Economic Policies.” The list of economic indicators states total household debt is at a record $17.3 trillion, mortgage and rent payments are up, and 67% of people disapprove of the president’s handling of inflation. Meanwhile, states led by Republican governors and legislatures are showing economic growth, according to the RNC.

Earnings report

Also on Feb. 13, BLS released its Real Earnings Summary stating real average hourly earnings for all employees went up 0.3% from December to January. Real average weekly earnings dipped 0.3% for the month due to a 0.6% decrease in the average workweek.

From January 2023 to last month, real average hourly earnings rose 1.4%, but added to a 1.4% decrease in the average workweek, the result was a 0.1% decrease in real average weekly earnings for the year, according to the BLS figures.

Related Videos