The percentage of Americans who have insurance through their employers dropped to a new low of 44.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011, according to a Gallup poll.

The figure represents a 5 percent decrease in three years and is a result of an increase of unemployment and underemployment as well as fewer employers offering health insurance, the respondents said.

"The health insurance system in the United States is experiencing numerous changes. Governments and businesses have and will continue to cut back and/or reform their health coverage offerings to handle tough economic circumstances, rising healthcare costs, and requirements of the Affordable Care Act," the pollsters said in a statement Friday.

The percentage of employer-based health insurance has been steadily declining. In 2008 more than 48 percent of Americans got their health insurance from an employer in every month of that year. In 2009 that figure dropped to more than 46 percent and in 2010 to at least 45 percent, according to the poll.

Wal-Mart -the nation's largest private employer-, for instance, announced in October that new part-time employees who work less than an average of 24 hours a week would no longer be able to get their health insurance from the company. Wal-Mart laid out several other cuts to its health insurance offerings, including some workers' ability to get coverage for their spouses, according to pollsters.

"If Wal-Mart's decision is a precursor of how employers intend to manage their healthcare costs, the downward trend in employer-based healthcare will likely continue," Gallup said.

The poll also showed that the percentage of Americans who are uninsured is on the rise again after remaining fairly steady throughout 2010 making more likely that "the uninsured rate will continue to rise -- at least until additional parts of the 2010 healthcare legislation take effect," pollsters said.