Any way you slice it, 45 million people is a big number. Yet, according to the most recent report from United States Census Bureau, this was how many people were without health insurance in 2003. And that staggering total was 1.4 million more than the previous year.
Actually, I think it does those individual lives included in the 45 million a disservice to lump them all together. Its very hard for most people to get their minds around 45 million of anything (except perhaps 45 million dollars) and so the tendency is to yawn, say yeah its a big number and then shift your focus to something else.
Ive already gone public about being a statistics freak, so heres one way Ive come up with for putting it in perspective. Lets look at that number in terms of how different the United States would look without 45 million people. One example: To get to 45 million you could lop off the entire West CoastCalifornia (hasta la vista, Arnold), Oregon and Washingtonand youd still come up short, so youd have to throw in New Mexico, too.
Too fond of the Coast to get behind that example? Lets move to the great heartland of our country. Start with Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Youve got to be kidding. Those three only bring you to just shy of 30 million (all figures are from the 2002 census). Toss in Michigan and youre still short. Wisconsin will do the trick, however, bringing us up to the magic 45 million. But you say youd miss the Rust Belt?
Then head further south, where you could start with Texas and go straight across to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Lop them off and youd still be well shy of 45 million. So youd have to throw in South Carolina, too.
OK, you say, enough of this. You get the idea and you dont want to waste time theorizing about a United States that would be without Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Neither do most people. But these examples do give an idea of how catastrophically large a number that 45 million is.