Number Receiving Health Coverage from Employer Continues Decline

November 11, 2011 ( – The percentage of American adults who receive health insurance from an employer continued to decline in the third quarter, falling to 44.5%, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

At least 45% of Americans received their health insurance from an employer in every month in 2010, compared with more than 46% in 2009 and more than 48% in 2008. Initially, the percentage reporting they have employer-based health insurance seemed to be decreasing as unemployment and underemployment increased. However, it is likely that other factors—including fewer employers offering health insurance—are also contributing to this trend, Gallup said.

The percentage of adults with no health insurance has been increasing in 2011, with the 17.3% who were uninsured last quarter statistically tying the second quarter of this year for the highest on record. The increase in the percentage of uninsured Americans in the second quarter of 2011 coincides with Gallup’s decision to include surveying more cell phone-only respondents in the U.S. beginning April 1. Thus, some of the increase in the uninsured could reflect the greater representation of cell phone-only respondents—who tend to be younger.

While the percentage of 18- to 26-year-olds who lack health insurance has declined, there has been an increase among 25- to- 64-year-olds—who make up a much larger segment of the population—without health insurance. Young adults are likely benefiting from the provision in the new health care law that lets them stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. However, none of the other components of the health law that have already been implemented—tax credits to help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees and the establishment of a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan among several others—appear to be affecting coverage for older adults.

Gallup initially found an increase in the percentage of Americans who were uninsured in the fourth quarter of 2008, as the effects of the financial crisis took hold and unemployment began to rise. Since then, the uninsured rate has remained elevated.

The percentage of Americans who get their health insurance from the government—Medicare, Medicaid, or military/veterans' benefits—declined somewhat in the second and third quarters of 2011, after increasing through most of 2010 and in the first quarter of this year. However, the percentage of Americans with government health insurance remains significantly higher than in 2008. The increase in government health insurance has occurred in tandem with the increasing percentage of Americans without health insurance and the decreasing percentage who receive coverage from their employer.

Employer-based health insurance has declined since 2008, falling from 49.8% in the first quarter of that year to 44.5% in the third quarter of 2011. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who are uninsured is on the rise again after remaining fairly steady throughout 2010.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. For more information, visit