The NY Times Economix Blog comments on a healthcare cost rarity. Here’s the rundown by sentence:
For the first time in 35 years, the one sector of the economy always guaranteed to get more expensive suddenly became a bit cheaper in July.
The medical care index [in a Labor Department report], however, fell 0.1 percent in July, after three and a half decades of constant increases.
In the last 40 years, the Labor Department reports that there are only three months in which medical care prices fell.
So, in the last 63 years, this has happened exactly six times.
In fact, not only have medical care prices been increasing continuously for the last 35 years, but they have increased almost twice as fast as consumer prices overall since the mid-1980s.
Although the price of drugs and medical equipment fell in July, the drop in medical prices was mostly driven by a fall in the cost of hospital care.
And adds (astonishingly):
The price of hospital care had been growing faster than any other component of medical prices—far faster than consumer prices in general—to the point that it’s now an incredible six times more expensive than it was in the 1980s.
Of course, the percentage drop falls within the margin of error. And this is only a single data point. But still. Taken in concert with the WSJ’s report on Americans consuming fewer healthcare resources, it’s a data point worth pondering.