There's a lot of skepticism about whether making prices more transparent will do anything to lower them, but there are ways to maximize the odds, Gilbert Benavidez and Austin Frakt write in JAMA Forum.

Driving the news: Both the Trump administration and Congress are pushing pricing transparency measures, banking on the idea that if consumers know how much health care services cost, they'll opt for the cheaper ones.

  • But this hasn't worked in the past. People who have access to price information rarely use it to shop around.
  • One study found that only 2% of people with access to price transparency tools actually used them.
  • This is even true for people with high deductibles.

The other side: Other incentives, when paired with transparency, actually do get people to shop for cheaper care.

  • The most effective seems to be reference pricing, in which payers set a maximum amount they'll reimburse for a shoppable service. Patients who use services that cost more than this maximum amount have to pay the difference out of pocket.
  • A slightly less effective tool is rewards programs, in which patients receive rebates when they use services below a set amount.
  • Between these 2 approaches, the stick works better than the carrot.

The bottom line: Getting the incentives right is important, but so far transparency is being pushed as a standalone approach.

Go deeper: Washington's favorite health policy isn't a silver bullet

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Kudlow says he regrets claiming Trump couldn't use executive order for unemployment

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he regrets suggesting this week that unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress.

Why it matters: President Trump's decision to bypass Congress to sign four executive actions, including one that provides $400 per week in extra unemployment benefits, has prompted outcry from Democrats and even some Republicans who believe he is overstepping his constitutional authority.

2 hours ago - World

Lebanon information minister resigns days after deadly explosion

Anti-government protesters in Beirut. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lebanon’s information minister resigned on Sunday in the wake of mass protests over the deadly blast in Beirut's port last week, which has killed at least 160 people and injured nearly 6,000, AP reports.

Why it matters: In her resignation letter, Manal Abdel-Samad called change "elusive" and apologized for not delivering more to the country, which had been devastated by a financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic even before the blast destroyed much of the capital city.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 19,655,445 — Total deaths: 727,353 — Total recoveries — 11,950,845Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 4,998,802 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.