Paul Krugman can’t stop attacking the McKinsey survey. His filed his latest apologia this morning (“McKinsey Pulls Back the Curtain”). It’s not his finest moment.
He dismisses the report as a mere “poll,” which is presumably a less reliable thing than the economic models that everyone else has been using. But why should a detailed survey—over 50 questions asked of over 1,300 respondents, mostly decision-makers—be less reliable than statistical extrapolations from not very comparable historical data?
When asked how much their companies spend on medical and prescription drug benefits per full-time employee – something you might expect a health benefit pro to be intimately familiar with – 58.3% said they didn’t know.
Yes, that’s in the survey (question 15, for those scoring at home). The full question is actually more complicated, and might require a little spreadsheet work to figure out precisely:
Approximately what did your company spend on medical and prescription drug benefits last year per each active, full-time employee (averaged across both single employees and employees with spouses/families)?
I think it’s certain that the “don’t knows” know that they’re spending more than $2,000.
And the respondents weren’t just “health benefit pros.” Only about 10% were human resources execs; far more were owners and CEOs (question 2).
That aside, Krugman forgot to quote this observation from Pickert, from the same article:
Its poll of employers was not a GOP-funded shoddy survey meant to gin up criticism of Obamacare. Rather, the poll was long, complicated, conducted by a well-established polling firm and weighted to reflect the American business community as a whole. (This weighting helps compensate for the fact that the survey was conducted online, which can lead to problematic self-selection.) There are more than 50 questions in the survey, many of them multi-part questions, and the data collected is organized into easy to read cross tabs and breakdowns….That McKinsey initially seemed to release only the most headline-grabbing data subset is disappointing – the full results are full of all sorts of interesting nuggets like that, compared to very small businesses, about half as many large businesses would probably or definitely drop coverage post-reform. But its initial decision to keep its full data trove secret doesn’t mean the company’s motives were evil or partisan.
By contrast, Krugman’s motives, though not evil, sure look partisan.