Life in general is more expensive than it was in 1977, or 1987, and the IRC results show that it’s also more expensive for a person to be “made whole” after an auto accident. In many cases, more technologically advanced methods of treatment and diagnosis are being used, and these result in higher charges to the injured person. The shift toward using more sophisticated imaging devices, especially, affects medical costs, because the difference between the cost of X-rays—used more in past years—and the cost of MRI’s or CT scans, is tremendous. In 2012, the median charges for CT scans and MRI’s were more than 6 times the charge for a set of x-rays. Tools that cost the care provider more will end up forcing them to raise the injured person’s charges more.
Automobile accidents inflict injuries of many kinds, ranging from physical pain to emotional suffering, but especially including economic loss. In the years from 2007 to 2012, reported losses for economic expenses from auto injuries outpaced general inflation. General inflation over this period was only 2 percent annualized, but inflation for the cost of medical care was 3 percent.
Medical expenses can constitute a large portion of an injured person’s economic loss. The IRC study showed that medical expenses are accounting for higher and higher percentages of a person’s overall economic loss, despite the fact that reported injuries are less severe due to many safety improvements. Medical costs account for the biggest portion of these increased auto injury costs, and expensive technology, higher-priced treatments and higher charges for medical care itself account for most of the increased medical cost. Increases in the number of services billed per visit could account for some of the increases in billed medical charges, as well.