Methodology Questions Swirl Around McKinsey’s Employer Survey Faulting Health Law

Earlier this week, McKinsey published an employer survey which found that 30 percent of businesses could drop coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans quickly seized on the story to further their argument that American’s won’t be able to keep the coverage they have, even though McKinsey refused to release the methodology behind their report.

Now, Greg Sargent reports that “the White House, as well as top Democrats on key House and Senate committees, have privately contacted McKinsey to ask for details on the study’s methodology. According to an Obama administration official and a source on the House Ways and Means Committee, the company refused.” Anonymous sources are also telling Brian Beutler that “the survey was not conducted using McKinsey’s typical, meticulous methodology”:

But multiple sources both within and outside the firm tell TPM the survey was not conducted using McKinsey’s typical, meticulous methodology. Indeed, the article the firm published was not intended to give the subject matter the same authoritative treatment as more thorough studies on the same topic — particularly those conducted by numerous think tanks, and the Congressional Budget Office, which came to the opposite conclusion. And that’s created a clamor within the firm at high levels to set the record straight.

“This particular survey wasn’t designed in away that would allow it to be peer review published or cited academically,” said one source familiar with the controversy. […]


Another keyed-in source says McKinsey is unlikely to release the survey materials because “it would be damaging to them.”

Both sources disagree with the results of the survey, which was devised by consultants without particular expertise in this area, not by the firm’s health experts.

A third source speculates that the firm may have reached its outlying conclusion by basing its questions on the firm’s own advice to clients on how best to arbitrage the new reforms.

As Paul Krugman concludes, “One has to assume that there was something terribly wrong with the study. At any rate, nobody should be citing it until or unless McKinsey comes clean.”