May 12, 2023
As inflation ameliorates, healthcare returns as top financial concern
With the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) report revealing the 12-month inflation rate in April 2023 rose again after hitting a recent low in March, we’re using this week’s graphic to show the cumulative picture on price and consumer sentiment changes across the last five years. Since 2018, the CPI for all goods has risen 21 percent, while medical services have become 15 percent more expensive, in terms of consumer out-of-pocket spending. Leading into COVID, medical service prices were rising faster than general inflation, but the cumulative rise in the price of all goods caught up to medical services in early 2022. Since December of last year, the price of medical services has actually experienced some deflation, partly due to a lagging decline in insurer profits. Reports of easing inflation had elicited a slight rebound in consumer sentiment, but last month’s 9 percent drop, the largest since June 2022, suggests this confidence is easily shaken. Unfortunately for healthcare providers, according to a recent poll, fewer consumers worrying about elevated grocery and gas prices means that healthcare has reclaimed the top spot for household financial concerns.