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Medical care prices creep up, contribute to inflation in April


National figures influenced by housing and gasoline price hikes.

inflation on calculator: © Superzoom -

© Superzoom -

Prices for medical care were among the indexes that rose in April, adding to a national inflation rate of 0.3%, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Food prices were unchanged but housing and gasoline prices rose, accounting for more than 70% of the monthly increase in the price index for all items from March to April, according to the BLS report published May 15.

Removing food and energy, prices rose 0.3%, a slight dip from the 0.4% increase in each of the three preceding months. Motor vehicle insurance, apparel and personal care prices all rose, while indexes for used cars and trucks, household furnishings and operation, and new cars and trucks decreased month to month.

In the 12 months ending April, prices for all items increased 3.4%, down slightly from the 3.5% price increase for all items for the 12 months ending in March. For the last year, prices for all items without food and energy grew by 3.6%, with energy up 2.6% and food up 2.2%.

Health care prices

Under medical care services, monthly price increases generally were less than 1%, but the year-on-year figures showed increases in some segments of health care, according to the unadjusted figures published by BLS.

Physicians’ services rose 0.1% for the month and 0.9% for the year. Dental services were up 0.4% for the month, eyeglasses and eyecare rose 0.9% for the month, and both those were up 4.1% for the year. Services by other medical professionals decreased 0.8% from March to April, but were up 0.6% year over year.

Inpatient and outpatient hospital services rose 0.8% and 0.4% for the month, and by 7.1% and 8.2% for the year, respectively, according to the BLS report.

Health insurance costs rose 0.3% for the year but dropped 11.6% in the annual comparison.

Political leaders react

At the national level, President Joe Biden issued a statement noting inflation has fallen more than 60% since its peak and core inflation is the lowest in three years. Even so, “prices are still too high – so my agenda will give families breathing room by building 2 million new homes to lower housing costs, taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug prices, and calling on grocery chains making record profits to lower grocery prices for consumers,” the president’s statement said.

House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri) slammed “Bidenflation” and high prices that are causing anxiety for families.

“President Biden doesn’t seem to have a clue how to fix the mess he and his reckless tax-and-spending agenda created,” Smith said in a statement. “His only solution seems to be to break his promise to not raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 and let the Trump tax cuts for workers and small businesses expire.”

Smith cited a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York stating total household debt grew by $184 billion in the first quarter, to reach $17.69 trillion. He said the House Ways and Means Republicans will put workers, families, farmers and small businesses first. The president countered that instead of solutions, Republicans will rely on “their same old trickle-down economics” with tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and large corporations and tax increases for the middle class.

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