The Washington Times - September 13, 2011, 11:31AM

Fewer people received insurance coverage through their employer in 2010 than in 2009, and the number of people covered through government insurance programs continued to rise, according to 2010 data reported Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It’s a trend that started a decade ago, as costs continue to rise and make it harder for employers to offer coverage to their workers. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that since 1999 family premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage have increased by 131 percent.

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“Over the last 10 years, private health insurance has continuously decreased,” said Brett O’Hara, chief of the Census Bureau’s Health and Disability Statistics Branch. “The number of people covered by government programs has increased for the fourth consecutive year.”

According to the data, employment-based coverage dropped by 1.5 million, while the number of people covered by government programs rose by 1.8 million and now stands at 31 percent of the population.

Census data also indicated that while the number of Americans without health insurance coverage rose to 49.9 million in 2010 from 49 million 2009, the percentage of uninsured remained steady at 16.3 percent. Similarly, the percentage and number of people covered by Medicaid — 15.9 percent and 48.6 million — did not change, despite the economic recession.

The census report covered health insurance, income and poverty.

The bureau found that the poverty rate has grown 2.6 percentage points since 2007, to reach 15.1 percent last year. It’s the highest level since 1993.

It also marks the second-highest increase in poverty on record for a year after a recession ended, following the 1980 recession.

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this article.