Good morning ... D.C. readers: Join Axios' Mike Allen and Evan Ryan tomorrow at 8:30 am for our next News Shapers event.
Americans spent $3.65 trillion on health care in 2018, according to new preliminary estimates from independent federal actuaries. That total is about the same size as Spain and Canada's entire economies — combined.
By the numbers: U.S. health spending last year was 4.4% higher than in 2017, a rate that is still growing faster than the broader economy, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Between the lines: A majority of the bigger spending totals were due to higher overall prices, while the "use and intensity" of health care services played a smaller role.
Federal regulations require drug companies to include both major and minor side effects in their direct-to-consumer advertising — the risk of heart attacks as well as, say, dry mouth.
Details: Researchers asked a group of people to read 2 print ads for Lunesta, the sleep aid. One was the actual ad, featuring 2 major side effects and 2 minor ones; the other only included the major side effects.
What they found: Presenting people with a lot of information can dilute each piece of information, the researchers said — if you want people to really hear 1 thing, you shouldn't also tell them 20 other things at the same time. (That also happens to be a guiding principle of this newsletter.)
Employers often turn to brokers to help them find the right health care plan for their workers. But there's a catch: Brokers have several layers of incentives to steer companies toward plans with higher premiums.
How it works: For starters, brokers' commission is a percentage of the plan's total annual premium. Higher premium, higher commission.
But there's more, as ProPublica reports.
Some brokers are trying to do better, switching to flat fees instead of commissions, hoping to draw a sharper contrast with agents who may not have the employer's bottom line in mind.
My colleague Caitlin Owens breaks down a new Brookings Institution paper that outlines ways to prevent patients from receiving surprise medical bills — particularly the patients who are unlikely to know their doctor is out-of-network.
The big picture: The paper argues that any solution must take into account that health care settings often are not normal markets.
Details: The paper recommends 2 fixes:
Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Pinterest
Pinterest is no longer returning any search results about vaccines, as a blunt way to weed out anti-vaccine messages, CNBC reports.
Why it matters: Inaccurate anti-vaccine information spreads quickly on social media, and Facebook in particular is under pressure to curtail that content amid multiple measles outbreaks. Pinterest's move could amplify that pressure.