Econintersect: Last week GEI News reported on a McKinsey study which included survey results indicating that 30% of employers would terminate health care plans under the 2010 Health Care Law. This report has generated severe criticism from Austin Frakt of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Boston University’s (BU’s) School of Public Health and Health Care Financing & Economics (HCFE) at the Boston VA Healthcare System, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Frakt discussed his conserns about the McKinsey report in an essay at The Incidental Economist. Frakt called the McKinsey study “faux research.” He says that McKinsey is guilty of “making things up” and then “stonewalling” against inquiries.Frakt wrote at The Incidental Economist:
By now you’ve probably heard that McKinsey has refused to release details of its survey methodology that backs the finding that 30% of employers intend to drop coverage as a result of the ACA. By now you know that 30% is a dramatically higher figure than any other credible organization has suggested. It’s not what we’ve seen in Massachusetts. (On all this, see Aaron, Volsky, or Krugman).
As someone who does research, this really bothers me. It should bother you too. Look, anybody can say what they like on a topic. They can put out a glossy report. They can claim they did a “survey” to make it sound scientifically rigorous. They can talk to the media all about it. They can stand behind their good name and reputation, if they have one. But when what they’re saying runs counter to previous experience and other credible estimates, they’d better have a good explanation.
But, McKinsey has no explanation. None. They’re stonewalling. You know what would happen to me if I tried that? Suppose I sent my new results to a journal, results that were very different from that of others, and said, “Trust me. They’re good.” Well, my paper would be laughed out of the editorial office.
And that’s as it should be. That would not be research. That would be the opposite of research. That would be indistinguishable from making things up. Well, anybody can make things up. The difference between making things up and actually doing some sound, rigorous work is the difference between fiction and reality.
Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.