McKinsey releases insurance-survey data; more controversy ensues

Perhaps you recall that McKinsey report a few weeks back saying that nearly a third of employers might drop healthcare benefits when the healthcare overhaul takes effect. The report itself was the subject of many headlines. Then came the reaction from the White House and other supporters of the overhaul. That garnered more headlines – and a demand for McKinsey to explain its methodology. Now it’s McKinsey’s turn again.

In a statement Monday, McKinsey & Co. had this to say:

“We stand by the integrity and methodology of the survey. The survey was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits.”

The statement goes on to explain how the research was conducted.


Time magazine’s Swampland blog offered this assessment:

“A press release claiming that people took its original survey too seriously is not really that interesting. What is interesting is the survey language and results, which show that McKinsey’s methodology was sound.”

Forbes’ Avik Roy commented:

“As far as I can tell, there’s little to nothing wrong with the way McKinsey conducted this survey. I’ll be interested to hear what Obamacare’s defenders say now. By falsely portraying McKinsey as some sort of right-wing conspirator, they set themselves up for disappointment.”

But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, among others, came out swinging, calling the explanations “unjustifiable” and saying that the McKinsey folks “simply changed their story.” His news release goes on from there.

For those still interested, this recent report by healthcare advisory company Avalere summarizes quite nicely the various studies, models, estimates (call them what you like) on what will happen to employer-provided health coverage:

“Overall, our analysis suggests that the ESI market will be fairly stable after 2014 when key ACA [Affordable Care Act] coverage provisions go into effect.”


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