December’s surprising jump in physician prices looks to have been idiosyncratic. January’s Producer Price Index for physician services declined 0.6 percent, versus a 0.5 percent rise in prices of final demand services. Prices for home health and hospice care increased 0.7 percent on the month. However, other prices for final demand health services were in line with other services inflation.
For final demand goods, prices for pharmaceutical preparations increased 1.6 percent, versus zero change for final demand goods less food and energy. (When the next Consumer Price Index is released on February 19, we will see whether the divergence between pharmaceutical prices in the PPI and CPI continues.) With respect to intermediate demand goods, prices of biologics, including diagnostics, increased 1.1 percent, versus a 1.3 percent decline in prices of processed goods, less foods and feeds.
It does not look like complaints about high and increasing prices for pharmaceuticals and biologics will be going away soon. (See Table I below the fold.)