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July 22, 1968

Health Care Prices, 1950-1967: Discussion of Trends and Their Significance

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Survey Research, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1968;205(4):231-234. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140300049013

The recent publicity that has followed the increase in health care prices prompts the need for a concise statement on their trends and significance. During the period 1950-1965, health care prices increased more than any other major component in the "Consumer Price Index" (66.6%). During the same period, physicians' fees increased each year with the average annual increase ranging from a high of 4.4% in 1952 to a low of 2.2% in 1963. In 1966, physicians' fees experienced an increase of 5.8% followed by an Increase in 1967 of 7.1%. The main cause of rising health care prices has been the industry's inability to satisfy expanding consumer demand. The dynamic nature of the economy, plus necessary financial considerations, have placed certain limitations on the CPI as an instrument for measuring changes in price levels. Despite these limitations, however, it is the most widely accepted indicator of price movements.