Health costs rose by the largest month-to-month rate since 1984. Find out what the trend might indicate about the economy.
Medical care prices increased last month at a rate not seen in several decades, according to the federal government.
From July to August, medical care prices increased by 1 percent — the largest month-to-month change since 1984, according to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The CPI tracks the average change in prices paid by urban consumers for certain categories of goods and services. The medical care category includes both medical products and medical services.
Prices within the medical care category that the Department of Labor singled out include those of:
- Hospital services, which increased by 1.7 percent from July to August (largest month-to-month change since October 2015).
- Prescription drugs, which increased by 1.3 percent (largest month-to-month change since December 2014).
Overall, the CPI increased by 0.2 percent from July to August, which the Department of Labor attributes mainly to the rising costs of medical care as well as housing. While 0.2 percent might sound like a small increase, it’s double the increase that many experts had projected.
MarketWatch reports that experts surveyed by the publication had expected an increase of 0.1 percent.
Similarly, Bloomberg reports that the median estimate of economists surveyed by that publication was 0.1 percent.
David Lebovitz, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, tells Bloomberg:
“I think what we’re beginning to see is that there’s in fact more inflation in the pipeline than a lot of people appreciate.”
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