The Washington Times - February 14, 2012, 01:59PM

The number of Americans obtaining health insurance through their employer continued to decline last year, with 44.6 percent taking advantage of employer-sponsored coverage.

According to a Gallop survey released Tuesday, employer-sponsored coverage has dropped by 1.2 percent since 2010 — and nearly 5 percent since 2008.


Four years ago, nearly half of all Americans received coverage through their job, but their numbers have fallen steadily in the midst of increased unemployment.

But even though the economy added more jobs last year, the rate for employer-sponsored insurance continued to drop. At the same time, the uninsured rate has continued to rise, reaching 17.1 percent this year — the highest since 2008.

The numbers suggest that more than just the recession was at play.

One factor could be that more of the U.S. workforce is employed in part-time instead of in full-time positions that are more likely to offer coverage. And as health costs continue to shoot up, employers may be less likely to offer coverage or employees may be less able to afford it.

President Obama has said his health-care law will reverse the trends by making insurance available to most Americans through state-based insurance exchanges and mandates on employers to offer coverage. But much of the law has yet to kick in, with 2014 as a crucial deadline for some of its major provisions.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the survey, conducted with 353,492 adults from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011. The margin of error was 0.2 percentage points.