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Healthcare PPI steady from April to May

Hospital prices steady, physician PPI inches up

Overall U.S. healthcare prices remained flat from April to May 2013, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS' Producer Price Indices measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. The May PPI report indicated that prices across the range of healthcare industries were 1.1 percent higher than a year ago.

[See also: Healthcare industry prices fall slightly.]

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The PPI translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services.

In the April through May period, prices received by both physician offices and dentist offices rose 0.1 percent, while the PPI for hospitals remained flat, as did the PPI for home healthcare services.

The PPIs of some other key healthcare sectors were down last month. Prices in the medical and diagnostic laboratory sector dropped 0.5 percent, while the PPI for blood and organ banks dropped by 0.1 percent from April through May.

In contrast, prices received by residential mental retardation facilities rose by 0.3 percent, and the PPI for nursing care facilities rose 0.2 percent across the month.

[See also: 5 metrics for managing physician revenue.]

Comparing May 2013 to May 2012, overall healthcare PPIs rose 1.1 percent.

Hospital prices were 1.8 percent higher in May than a year ago, while physician office prices were 0.2 percent higher. Nursing care facility prices increased 0.5 percent from May 2012 to May 2013 and the PPI for dentist offices rose 1.7 percent across the 12-month period.

The PPI for medical and diagnostic laboratories dropped 2.1 percent from May 2012 to May 2013, while prices for home healthcare services fell 0.2 percent during the same period. Residential mental retardation facilities saw prices rise significantly in 2013, with a PPI increase of 4.1 percent from year to year. Blood and organ banks experienced a PPI increase of 0.5 percent in the same period.

The PPIs for healthcare industry segments measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.