The Consumer Price Index (CPI) illustrates that since 1950, physicians' fees have increased faster than the general price level. (See JAMA205:231-234 [July 22] 1968). In recent years these increases have accelerated. Since 1960, physicians' fees have increased at an annual rate approximately twice that of the general price level and per capita private expenditures for physicians' services have increased one and a half times that of consumers' disposable income.
Inflation is a contagious phenomenon. As wages and prices increase in one sector of the economy, inflationary pressures are applied to wages and prices in other sectors. Physicians can be expected to react to inflationary forces in the same manner as do other employers. As the wages they pay to employees increase, and as other office expenses rise, they will probably increase their fees.
In addition to the above inflationary pressures, prices have also been influenced by a rapid