The hypocritical White House attack on McKinsey

June 16, 2011

Consulting firm McKinsey put out a report on Obamacare that the White House doesn’t like very much. Here is the relevant bit (bold is mine):

US health care reform sets in motion the largest change in employer-provided health benefits in the post–World War II era. While the pace and timing are difficult to predict, McKinsey research points to a radical restructuring of employer-sponsored health benefits following the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Many of the law’s relevant provisions take effect in 2014. Our research suggests that when employers become more aware of the new economic and social incentives embedded in the law and of the option to restructure benefits beyond dropping or keeping them, many will make dramatic changes. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that only about 7 percent of employees currently covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) will have to switch to subsidized-exchange policies in 2014. However, our early-2011 survey of more than 1,300 employers across industries, geographies, and employer sizes, as well as other proprietary research, found that reform will provoke a much greater response.

· Overall, 30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering ESI in the years after 2014.

· Among employers with a high awareness of reform, this proportion increases to more than 50 percent, and upward of 60 percent will pursue some alternative to traditional ESI.

· At least 30 percent of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage even if they completely compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries.

· Contrary to what many employers assume, more than 85 percent of employees would remain at their jobs even if their employer stopped offering ESI, although about 60 percent would expect increased compensation.

McKinsey, shorter: Anyone who tells you that if you like your current health plan you can keep it under Obamacare is trying to sell you a false bill of goods. Now the White House points to other studies that arrive at a different conclusion, that employers won’t change their plans much if at all.  So the White House is banging on McKinsey to release its methodology:

McKinsey says they obtained their data after they “educated respondents” about reform and that 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 firm has so far declined to reveal any more info to the administration of congressional Democrats. Now what I find interesting is that the WH and its minions in the blogosphere have apparently forgotten that Team Obama likes to keep things secret as well. Remember the infamous Romer-Bernstein prediction that claimed the Obama stimulus plan would keep unemployment from reaching 8 percent? We still don’t know exactly how they arrived at that number.

Then there’s the recent budget speech by President Obama in which he presented a plan that would supposedly cut projected deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years. As I wrote in April:

When he made his big budget speech last week, it wasn’t at all clear from where his numbers were coming — nor in what direction they were heading. A “fact sheet” on his “Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility” gave a few more specifics, but little or no context to make real sense of them. Even for seasoned budget experts, it was a puzzlement.

So maybe the White House should lay off McKinsey until it submits Obama’s big budget “plan” to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, which is what Rep. Paul Ryan did with his Path to Prosperity. And if the White House really wants more info from McKinsey, maybe they should call Diana Farrell. She is the former head of the McKinsey Global Institute who until last November was a deputy director on Obama’s National Economic Council.


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Your post is lacking a lot of facts.

The McKinsey study is seriously flawed and is now being called out by the Senate Finance Committee: 06/max-baucus-issues-public-call-to-mcki nsey-to-come-clean-about-controversial-h cr-survey.php

Also industry expert – IFEBP’s study didn’t support their conclusions: ipated_Costs_Most_Employers_to_Keep_Heal th_Care_Benefits.aspx

Most importantly – Nor did the Urban Institute study co authored by the head of McKinsey’s healthcare practice. A bit odd huh?: Employer-Sponsored-Insurance.pdf

I am all for studies and facts an conclusions drwan from them but your off base on this topic.

Posted by JNail | Report as abusive

This is not hypocritical in the least, instead of producing a nonpolitical study McKinsey has apparently slanted their study to arrive at a politically desirable conclusion. If this turns out to be true, they are dishonest and their study is worthless. The citizens of the U.S. have a right to know if Republican politicians are trying to sway public opinion with faulty information.

Posted by Dalton | Report as abusive

[…] I have written, there was pressure on McKinsey to release its methodology, which it finally […]

Posted by James Pethokoukis | Analysis & Opinion | | Report as abusive