Population of the states mapped to the total uninsured
September 10, 2009 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Population of the states mapped to the total uninsured
This map came about from a simple question - if health care was separated by states - what could the uninsured look like if broken down on a state by state basis? This is how it would look if it were all the low population states (24 states + DC) - if you went with the high population states - California and Michigan would equal the total uninsured. Based on July 1, 2008 Census Estimate and the latest uninsured numbers from the US Census. posted by bigmusic (4 comments total)

Is the intention the map to get across that uninsured in the country would fill up the 24 least populated states?

If so, I don't think a map is the best way to get that across, as you tend to see that map and think, "Wait, is this saying there's more uninsured people in the red states?" Also, red and blue are loaded colors to be using for state coloring.

That is an interesting statistic, though.
posted by ignignokt at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm somewhat in agreement with ignignokt. As a means of visualising the data it's not that great. Ideally your image should need no more than a short title - the image is supposed to do the work; the fact that you need a paragraph of text to explain the map is an indicator that you're doing something wrong.

You explain the problem yourself in that paragraph; you could equally just have two red states. The choice of states says nothing about those particular states, and therein lies the source of confusion. Also, without actual population figures, the viewer learns nothing about how many Americans are uninsured. 20%? 50%?

If you're going to use a map of states, then the immediate assumption on the part of a viewer is that you'll have state-by-state data presented there. Some sort of 'heat map' showing percentages of uninsured would be a fine, if unremarkable visualisation. If you want to present a single statistic - "x% of Americans are unisured, which is equivalent to the combined populations of the 24 least populous states", then putting it in words is more straightforward and much less ambiguous. Think about it - you've had to put it into words anyway.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:55 AM on September 11, 2009

I really like the idea here, but I think the way it's explained is confusing. Maybe you need something like "what is 40 million?" or whatever, and then have a few maps that show what that population number would look like in a few different ways. So

- the way you have it now
- the California/Michigan
- maybe a "start from your state and draw a circle" way

Seriously, totally good idea, but needs a bit more clarity so that it's saying what I think you want it to say.
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 PM on September 11, 2009

I want to restate that red/blue will be problematic colors, since they're so associated to the political parties now. It will make it harder to use the map as a tool for having a discussion about insurance, since it introduces this emotionally-loaded but irrelevant association to the parties. Maybe do blue/orange?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:31 PM on September 11, 2009

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