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September 22, 1956


JAMA. 1956;162(4):413-414. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970210153015

For the first time, the annual personal consumption expenditures of the American people for hospital services exceeded those for physicians' services. According to the July, 1956, issue of the Survey of Current Business,1 personal consumption expenditures for hospital services during 1955 were 3,130 million dollars as compared with 3,070 million for physician services. Although the difference in the two amounts is not very great and both are subject to subsequent revision, these data mark 1955 as a turning point in the history of medical economics. In 1929 the estimates by the Department of Commerce of personal consumption expenditures were 959 million dollars for physician services and 403 million for hospital services; in the period 1935-1939 the average annual amounts were 821 million and 448 million; they rose to 2,435 million and 1,975 million in 1950. In other words, the physicians' share of "the medical care dollar" declined from 33 cents