Since McKinsey released the methodology to its employer health care survey yesterday afternoon, researchers like Aaron Carroll have raised concerns about some of the questions asked, but Steve Benen points to something even more troubling: the company’s chutzpah. That is, even though McKinsey now claims that it did not mean for its survey to act as a economic predictor of how employers will act, its original press release packaged the report as a study of how health reform “will affect employee benefits”:
Note the new statement again: “We understand how the language in the article could lead the reader to think the research was a prediction, but it is not.” Apparently, McKinsey intends to parse the meaning of the word “will”?
Indeed, Republicans who’ve begun using the findings as a political weapon have no use for these nuances. House Speaker John Boehner’s office argued last week, “A survey by McKinsey & Company says businesses planning for the onslaught of ObamaCare taxes, mandates, regulations, and penalties have two choices: stop offering health care for their employees, or eliminate full-time jobs and keep wages low.”
“Not intended as a predictive” analysis? I guess Boehner missed the fine print, too.
And McKinsey used this frame despite the uncertainty it heard from the employers it surveyed and the general difficulty of predicting how businesses will respond to unknown economic factors several years down the road:
When asked how much their companies spend on medical and prescription drug benefits per full-time employee – something you might expect a health benefit pro to be intimately familiar with – 58.3% said they didn’t know.
As Paul Krugman notes this morning, “It’s pretty clear that McKinsey was trying to drum up/scout out business, and someone had the bright idea of weighing in on policy debate on the Republican side. Bad idea, and nobody should be quoting this study for that purpose.”