A Comparison of Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics Disease-Price Indexes

Research Brief | May 01, 2017 | Charles Roehrig, PhD

This paper was originally posted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and is reprinted with permission.

National health expenditures and health care prices are routinely measured according to type of service, such as hospital care, physician care, or prescription drugs. The official National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) maintained by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) both track spending in this way. Health care prices, maintained by BLS, are also measured by type of service. Within this framework, the drivers of health spending tend to be analyzed in terms of service volumes and prices.

While BEA continues to measure health spending by type of service within the NIPA, they have recently introduced a new set of accounts that estimate health spending by disease category. Within this framework, BEA also introduced the Medical Care Expenditure (MCE) Index to measure the change over time in the costs of treatment within these disease categories. BLS has also developed a disease price index known as the Experimental Disease Price (EDP) Index. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast these two indexes and to suggest areas for future improvements.

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