Swampland's Kate Pickert takes a closer look at the McKinsey and Co. report that claimed 30% of employers plan to stop offering health insurance to workers as a result of the Affordable Care Act released this week, and finds good reason for "health skepticism" regarding its conclusions.
She called McKinsey to find out more about the methodology of the survey, and didn't get a lot of answers to her questions. Here's what she asked the company in order "to evaluate the integrity of the McKinsey study and make any judgments about the ACA based on it":
* What were the precise breakdowns of size, geographic location and industry for the businesses included in the survey? This would tell us if the sample was representative of American business as a whole. Small businesses, for instance, might be more likely to drop coverage due to the structure of the ACA.
* How were the businesses chosen? An unbiased sampling method here is key. If the list of businesses was culled from Chamber of Commerce memebrship or McKinsey client lists, this is important to know. Ditto if the list was generated in a more randomized way.
* What was the response rate? And how were businesses surveyed? If 13,000 businesses were contacted, but only 1,300 responded, such a 10% response rate could call into question the results. Also, there is, for example, a huge difference between surveys conducted in person, over the phone and over the Internet.
* Lastly, this tidbit was included in the McKinsey Quarterly article about the survey:
“…our survey educated respondents about [employer sponsored insurance] implications for their companies and employees before they were asked about post-2014 strategies.”
In other words, those conducting the survey may have primed respondents to say they would keep or drop coverage.
The company declined to comment on all of these questions, including the text of the statement they used to "educate" respondents, but did tell Pickert that a third party did not pay for the survey. All of this is important to know because this study is such an outlier, as the White House pointed out. Good for TIME and Pickert for digging deeper into a story others in the traditional media took at face value.