The portion of American adults who get health insurance through an employer continues to decline, and the percentage of uninsured Americans remains high, according to a new Gallup and Healthways poll.
The survey found 44.5 percent of American adults received health insurance coverage through an employer in the third quarter of this year, compared to 45 percent in 2010, 46 percent in 2009 and more than 48 percent in 2008.
Initially, the decline appeared to be due to rising unemployment after the recession began. But researchers say other factors, including fewer employers offering health insurance, are contributing to the trend.
Researchers say the decline could continue, if recent actions by Wal-Mart are any indication. The nation's largest private employer announced in October that new part-time employees who work less than an average 24 hours a week no longer would be eligible for health insurance through the company. It also made some other cuts, including reducing the opportunties for workers to get coverage for their spouses.
Meanwhile, 17.3 percent of adults had no health insurance in the third quarter. That's unchanged from the second quarter of this year and marks the highest percentage of uninsured adults on record since Gallup and Healthways started tracking American's health insurance sources in 2008. The increase in the second quarter coincides with Gallup's decision to survey more cell phone-only respondents starting April 1. So, some of the increase may be due to the greater representation of those consumers, who tend to be younger. Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than older adults.