November 6, 2014

State lines

Two very geographical graphics:

From the New York Times (via Alberto Cairo), a map of percentage increases in number of people with health insurance in the US.


This is a good example of something that needs to be a map, to demonstrate two facts about the impact of Obamacare. First, state policies matter. That’s most dramatic in this region from the right-hand side, about halfway up:


Kentucky and West Virginia implemented an expansion in Medicaid, the low-income insurance program, and had a big increase in number of people insured. Neighbouring counties in Tennessee and Virginia, which did not implement the Medicaid expansion, had much smaller increases.  The beige rectangle at the top left is Massachusetts, which already had a universal health care law and so didn’t change much. (Ahem. Geography and orientation apparently not my strong points. Massachusetts didn’t change, but that’s Pennsylvania, which only just started Medicaid expansion)

Second, there was a lot of room for improvement in some places — most dramatically, south Texas. The proportion of people with health insurance increased by 10-15 percentage points, but it’s still below 40%.


As a contrast, the Washington Post gives us this,


which is, hands-down, the least readable marriage equality map I’ve ever seen.



Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar

    Also the marijuana circle is misleading because it doesn’t differentiate between recreational and medical use. If anything, I think the disclaimer at the bottom makes it more confusing because it uses the word “and.” It is clearer in the text of the article. (And of course it is still a federal crime, albeit not often enforced, as far as I know.)

    3 years ago