Consumers in the survey expected a median rate of inflation of 3.1 percent in the year ahead, but when the Fed presented individual expenditures, like rent, medical costs and food expenses, their views varied. Food, for instance, was basically flat, with an expectation over the six-month period that food costs would go up 5.1 to 5.3 percent in the next 12 months.
Gasoline fluctuated more, with expectations in December at the lower end of a recent range.
But medical care cost expectations rose during the last two months, with the medical costs expected to climb over the next 12 months by 11.2 percent in December. That was slightly above the 10.7 percent in November and slightly above the six-month trend.
(Read more: Consumers say they are paying more for health insurance)
Fed economists, in a conference call with reporters, said the reasons behind a slight pick up in expectations for medical costs could not be determined by the survey. They also said, in response to a question, that it could not be tied directly to the Affordable Care Act, which was much in the headlines at year-end as consumers made insurance choices under the health-care act.
Consumers in the survey also saw a 22 percent mean probability of leaving a job by choice over the next year, while 17 percent saw a probability of losing a job. They also saw a 46 percent probability of finding a new job in the next three months if they did lose a job.
—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow her on Twitter @pattidomm.