McKinsey survey draws fire

Some Democrats are up in arms over a McKinsey survey reporting that one-third of employers will drop health coverage after 2014.

But the McKinsey group stands by the survey.

“The article presents the results of a survey of more than 1,000 companies on U.S. health care reform, conducted in February 2011,” spokeswoman Yolande Daeninck told BenefitsPro. “The article reflects the opinions of the respondents at that point in time. Obviously the survey is only one indicator of the employers' view of likely future actions. Many uncertainties remain, and the actions and timing of actions of employers will ultimately depend on numerous variables.”

The consulting firm has not released the complete survey.

In fact, Daeninck insisted all the information about the survey that’s available is already in the McKinsey Quarterly article, available on the company’s website.

McKinsey funded the research itself, Daeninck added.

The White House fired back against the validity of the survey with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Deputy Chief of Staff and assistant to the president, posting comments on the White House blog June 8.

 “Unfortunately, the [McKinsey] study misses some key points and doesn’t provide the complete picture about how the Affordable Care Act will strengthen the health care system and make it easier for employers to offer high quality coverage to their employees,” she wrote.

The McKinsey study is an “outlier,” the White House claims, citing other respected independent organizations have examined the same issue and found the percentage of employers offering insurance will not change substantially.

McKinsey report authors already backed up that notion by saying their survey found “a bigger effect than expected,” writing, “As we have seen, a Congressional Budget Office report estimated only 9 million to 10 million people, or about 7 percent of employees, covered by ESI would have to switch to subsidized exchange policies in 2014. Most surveys of employers likewise show relatively low interest in shifting employees from traditional ESI.”

McKinsey’s research finds 45 percent to 50 percent of employers say they’ll definitely or probably pursue alternatives to offering health insurance.

“Those alternatives include dropping coverage, offering it through a defined-contribution model, or in effect offering it only to certain employees,” the McKinsey Quarterly article said.

DeParle wrote, “McKinsey says they obtained their data after they ‘educated respondents’ about reform and their survey used proprietary research. We don’t know what respondents were told or whether they had the chance to check with their colleagues or crunch the numbers for their business before responding.”

The White House instead agrees with experts who project that employers will continue to offer high quality benefits to their workers under the new law. “This one discordant study should be taken with a grain of salt,” DeParle wrote.

Get more: Coverage of McKinsey's employer health care survey

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