The consumer price index for medical care just posted its largest increase since 2010.
The June 2012 uptick for medical care services, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, was 0.7% -- larger than any other sector except utility gas service, which was up 1.7% for the month.
But gas had been dropping for months, and its annualized rate shows a loss of 13.6%. The 12-month figure for medical care is now up 4.3%.
The hospital services component was up 1.2% for June and the physicians' services index rose 0.8%.
Medicare commodities (equipment) were up 0.1% for June and 2.9% for the past 12 months.
BLS's monthly jobs report earlier this month, while grim overall, was good news for the health care sector, which gained 13,000 jobs in June (though physicians practices lost 3,400 jobs -- perhaps reflecting that trend we were talking about earlier of physicians leaving small practices for hospitals, which gained 3,700 jobs).
Under normal circumstances, rising employment coupled with rising prices would suggest a healthy sector. But the consumer base is spending less money in general; they presumably only buy medical services when they absolutely have to -- which means there might be a cliff at the end of the rise.