Fewer Americans got their health insurance through an employer in 2011 than in 2010, according to a new report from the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index.

The poll released Tuesday found 44.6 percent of Americans reported having employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011, compared to 45.8 percent in 2010, continuing the downward trend, which has been documented by Gallup since 2008.

As the number of employer-sponsored plans decreases the number of uninsured Americans has increased. In 2011, 17.1 percent of people polled said they were uninsured, the highest seen since 2008.

Hispanics are the most likely to be uninsured in the United States – with more than 40 percent going without insurance in 2011. More than 30 percent of low-income Americans were uninsured in 2011. The number of uninsured young adults has decreased since the passage of President Obama’s health care law, with 24.5 percent in 2011 compared to 27.6 percent in 2010 and 28.2 percent in 2009.

Gallup attributed the increase in uninsured Americans to fewer employers offering insurance due to high costs; employees not being able to afford employer-sponsored insurance premiums; and more Americans being unemployed or underemployed in 2011 than in 2008.

Having health insurance not only makes it easier for individuals to access the health care system, but it has also been found to improve healthy habits. Another Gallup poll found Americans with health insurance were more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, exercise for at least 30 minutes three or more days a week, and were less likely to smoke.

Poll results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2011, with a random sample of 353,492 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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