New York, NY - July 14, 2011 - The importance of health insurance brokers and agents over the next three years -- especially those who specialize in employee health benefits -- will be increasing sharply in the eyes of middle market decision makers.  This is based on a recent survey, conducted by Kantar TNS, a world leader in market information.

According to the study, almost two-thirds (63%) of companies surveyed view their employee health insurance broker or agent as a valued partner with 33% describing them as a trusted advisor. "Our results indicate a much stronger role for brokers than one might have expected," said William Bruno, Vice President at Kantar TNS. "One possible explanation is they fill a vital role in helping companies control the rising employee benefit costs. This is a key area that almost all (92%) of the companies surveyed identified as a concern - and one that for the vast majority (77%), say has increased in importance over the past 12 months" said Bruno.  "On top of this, many companies have reduced their staffing in the human resources or benefits areas over the past two years, and brokers are helping to fill this void."

While health reform may make it easier for companies to find benefit plans at more competitive prices in 2014, most companies surveyed will be relying more heavily on their broker to help them navigate through the choices offered under reform. This is evidenced by 75% of companies who think their health insurance broker will play a more important role in their relationship over the next three years.

"One of the most important insights that came from our research highlights the vast opportunity for brokers and agents to stay well ahead of the curve on detailed knowledge of health reform and related employee health care options that best fit with their clients' needs.  For health insurers, it will be important to recognize the significant role that brokers and agents may continue to play well into the future," said Bruno.

About Kantar TNS

Kantar TNS is the global leader in custom market research delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to clients around the globe so they can make more effective business decisions. Kantar TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 80 countries, Kantar TNS is dedicated to discovering growth opportunities for its clients in an ever-changing world.  Through its pioneering and innovative culture, Kantar TNS understands the latest marketing challenges and research techniques, being the first to discover and solve new marketing issues for clients.

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Please visit www.tns-us.com for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

For further information, please visit us at www.kantar.com