WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - The majority of West Virginians with insurance believe the federal Affordable Care Act will increase their premium costs, according to new results from the West Virginia Poll.
Meanwhile, a separate poll found two-thirds of state business owners believe the law will have a negative impact on their business.
The West Virginia Poll, conducted in partnership with the Daily Mail by R.L. Repass and Associates, surveyed 400 state residents earlier this month. It asked residents for their perspectives on the state's economy and health care in particular.
Of the 400 respondents, 83 percent said they had health insurance. Among those, 43 percent said they had insurance that was partially paid by their employer or union, 30 percent had coverage through either Medicare or Medicaid, 10 percent purchased coverage for themselves, and 9 percent had a plan that was fully paid for by their employer or union.
The 330 respondents with insurance were asked whether they thought, based on what they've read or heard, if the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to increase access to coverage nationwide, will increase or decrease their current costs.
Sixty percent of those asked said they believed the law would increase their costs while just 6 percent said it will cause their premiums to go down. Another 23 percent said they thought their costs would stay the same while the rest were unsure.
The results were similar to a second poll conducted by Malone Consulting of Charleston for the state Chamber of Commerce that was unveiled earlier this week at the Chamber's annual Business Summit at The Greenbrier.
That poll surveyed state Chamber members and asked if they thought the health care reform would have a positive or negative impact on their business.
Two-thirds said the law would have a negative impact - 22.5 percent said it would be a significant negative impact while 46 percent said it would have a somewhat negative impact.
Just 5 percent of state Chamber members said the law would have a positive impact on their business.
Dr. William Winkenwerder, president and chief executive officer at Pittsburgh-based insurance provider Highmark, told attendees at the Chamber summit Thursday that the law would increase access and affordability for those with pre-existing conditions or higher risk factors.
But he said that would be balanced by increasing costs on those who normally have less expensive insurance.
"Younger people are likely going to have to pay more, and sicker and more elderly people are likely to pay less," Winkenwerder said.
He said the law caps the amount his company can charge a chronically ill person at five times more than what they would charge a regular, healthy individual.