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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Health Policy Infographic Round-Up: August 2012

As a data visualization junkie and aspiring health policy wonk, few things are more exciting to me than finding a great new infographic. Luckily, August has been a terrific month in that respect. Our Twitter feed has been full of interesting visualizations from all corners of the web. If you’ve missed our Coolest Infographic Of The Day series on Twitter, we’ve rounded up the highlights for you on Analysis with Altitude.  (Not following us on Twitter? You can fix that by clicking here.)

1. The California Healthcare Foundation released an interactive graphic that shows who paid for the nation’s health care over the past 50 years, and how much it cost. The coolest part is that it’s animated. I won’t admit how many times I’ve watched this—let’s just say I passed the single digits awhile ago—but it never gets old. I learn something new every time.

One of the many things that strike me about this visualization is how much the landscape changes. In 1960, the chart is nearly entirely orange—meaning that most health care services were paid for out-of-pocket. In 2010, it’s much more colorful, reflecting a system where most care is paid for by a public or private insurer. The entrance of Medicare and Medicaid to the scene in 1965 kick-started this transformation. You can follow the rise and fall of managed care; a gradual increase in dental insurance coverage; and the particularly dramatic impact of Medicare Part D on prescription drug expenses in 2006.

2. When we heard that the Kaiser Family Foundation was teaming with the Journal of the American Medical Association on an infographic series, we knew it would be good. This month’s infographic, “Medicaid: Its Role Today and Under the Affordable Care Act” delivers. Did you know that Medicaid covers one in three children in the U.S.? Bookmark this page, as they’re scheduled to release a new one each month.

3. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Better Education = Healthier Lives” infographic dives into the social determinants of health. The infant mortality rate for women who never graduated high school, for example, is nearly twice that of women with college degrees. An additional four years of education reduces your risk of heart disease by 2 percent and being overweight by 5%. It reduces your risk of smoking by a whopping 12 percent. The bottom line is that education matters—a lot—to the health of our country.

4. Finally, we’d like to give a shout out to the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved for their visualizations of data from the 2011 Colorado Health Access Survey. Check out their infographics on health and education, health and insurance, and health and income

What have we missed? Please share a link to your favorite health policy infographic in the comment section below.