Health care costs more than education
A Columbia University economist said Thursday that the federal government spends twice as much money on health care than on education.
Sharon Glied, a professor at Columbia's School of Public Health, said reforming America's health care system should be Congress' top priority.
She said the government spends approximately $3,100 a person on health care -- twice as much as it spends on public education.
"By the year 2000, 27 percent of the annual federal budget will be devoted to health costs," Glied said.
Glied, a health care expert who serves on the President's Council of Economic Advisors, is a member of President Bill Clinton's Health Care Task Force, which is the main group that formulated the current health care reform package.
During the speech in the Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences, Glied said health care reform is necessary because it will provide security and access for the nearly 36 million Americans who are uninsured.
She also said the reforms will result in lower household medical bills and will reduce the impact of health care costs on the federal budget.
"The majority of Americans want health care reform, but they aren't willing to pay for it," she said. Glied referred to recent polls which show 75 percent of Americans favoring reform and only 52 percent willing to foot the bill.
"Spending more on health care does not make you live longer," she said. "But you feel better."
Glied said that cost control is the cornerstone of the plan.
The Clinton proposal would create a National Health Board to set budgets and premium caps. Doctors would not be able to exceed those caps on charges.
Glied said Americans should think about whether it is appropriate for people with low cost care to subsidize those with higher costs.
"In the end, everyone wants change, but no one wants to make the changes," she said.