[Excerpt] The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is celebrating the first anniversary of experimental disease-based price indexes, which adjust expenditures on disease for inflation. Statistical agencies have long collected price information on medical procedures, drugs, equipment, and services, but the cost of treating a patient is typically some combination of these goods and services. Many users of the Federal Statistical System have asked that medical care spending be reported on a disease basis. Creating price indexes on a disease basis helps provide greater understanding of the cost of care for a given condition.
The indexes are the result of a long-term research effort by staff in the BLS Office of Prices and Living Conditions. Using existing data products, we met the need for a new product, without incurring more data collection expenses. We construct the experimental indexes using two publicly available datasets: 1) the monthly producer price index (PPI) and consumer price index (CPI) published by BLS and 2) the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The monthly BLS data allow our experimental disease-based price indexes to be timely. MEPS supplies data on the use of medical service and products for the treatment of each disease.
After a year of constructing the experimental disease-based index we reveal the wealth of information that the data show. This Beyond the Numbers article examines the reasons for reporting by disease rather than by service and explains the reasons behind the spending growth for each disease.