As the Affordable Care Act alters the landscape of health care coverage, employees increasingly crave voluntary benefit offerings from employers, yet nearly half of employees say their employer hasn’t offered any additional voluntary products, creating a void that benefit advisers are primed to help fill.

Most employees (65%) say it’s important their employer offer voluntary products and 62% say they would purchase voluntary benefits if faced with less comprehensive benefits due to health reform, according to a recent Transamerica Employee Benefits report. Still, 47% of employees surveyed for the report said they have not been offered an additional voluntary product since health care reform was implemented in 2010.

See related: Employers thirsty for voluntary dental info

See related: 3 voluntary sales tips you can use now

The good news for benefit advisers, “You’re not too late. The time to sell is now,” says John Stanley, chief marketing officer of the San Francisco, Calif.-based Transamerica Employee Benefits, a marketing unit of Transamerica Life Insurance Company.

The impact of health care reform allows voluntary products to change the employee benefits game, TEB says in its report.

“There’s an incredible opportunity for benefit advisers and brokers to talk about weaving in these voluntary benefit solutions as ways to mitigate the out-of-pocket exposures to increasing deductibles in major medical plans,” Stanley says.

Human resource departments are overwhelmed he says. “Sometimes new benefit offerings are something an employer wants to do but they don’t always get implemented.”

Benefit advisers should be talking with employers about how voluntary products fit with their benefit plan offerings, he says.

Employers have been fixated on ACA compliance issues, not on adding new voluntary benefits, agrees Jack Kwicien, a managing partner at Baltimore, Md.-based Daymark Advisors.

"Now that the public and private exchanges have launched, prudent advisers and voluntary benefits specialists need to approach employers from a strategic perspective to inquire about what do they want to achieve with their benefits program over the next 3-5 years," he says. "The intelligent integration of one or more voluntary benefits can fill the gaps in the employer’s benefits offerings while helping employees to address their personal financial security needs."

Kwicien adds, "I believe we will see a surge in voluntary benefits adoption over the next 2-3 years as a result."

Rob Shestack, senior vice president at AmWINS Group Benefits in North Kingstown, R.I. agrees the opportunity exists now for benefit brokers to step in and advise employers about the benefits of voluntary products, adding that “if they’re not recommending voluntary benefits to their clients, another broker will.”

The voluntary products becoming increasingly more important due to health care reform include critical illness, accident, supplemental medical expense, hospital indemnity and cancer, dental and vision policies, the TEB white paper says.

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