Benefits buyers at big companies are depending on their benefits advisors to help them understand congressional health care reform efforts.

Researchers at MetLife Inc., New York, have published data supporting that conclusion in a summary of results from a November telephone survey of 501 U.S. benefits decision-makers at companies with 10 or more employees.

About 83% of the employers said they have been paying close attention to federal health care legislation developments, and 57% of the decision-makers at companies with 500 or more workers said they are relying on benefits brokers or consultants for health leg updates, the MetLife researchers report.

Only 42% said they are getting their health leg information from the business media, and only 37% from general audience media, the researchers found.

The survey “reveals a tremendous opportunity for insurance brokers and benefits consultants to help better educate their clients,” Dr. Ronald Leopold, a vice president at MetLife, says in a statement about the results.

The more employers know about what is happening in Washington, the more they can tell employees about how the proposed laws could affect their personal situations, Leopold says.

The MetLife researchers also describe the results of a separate November telephone survey of 701 U.S. consumers ages 21 to 65.

Today, the MetLife researchers say, consumers who have more problems with their health and health coverage tend to be more likely to think that health leg efforts will be “good for America.”

About 62% of the participating consumers without health insurance said health reform would be good for America, compared with 42% of the participating consumers who have health coverage.

Similarly, 65% of the consumers who said their health is fair or poor said reform efforts will have a positive effect, compared with 28% of the consumers who said their health is very good or excellent.

In related news, MetLife asked benefits decision-makers about how health leg efforts might affect non-medical benefits, such as life insurance, disability insurance and dental benefits.

About 36% of the participating decision-makers said they are not sure how health leg will affect the non-medical benefits they offer, but only 5% said they would consider reducing non-medical benefits, and 44% said they expect to hold non-medical benefits steady.