By Kathryn Mayer
As employers consider their health care and total rewards strategies with the context of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nearly half expect voluntary benefits
and services to become more important than ever over the next five years, according to the Towers Watson 2013 Voluntary Benefits and Services Survey.
The survey also found that the importance of voluntary in companies’ total rewards strategy will grow 27 percent in the next half-decade.
For now, these five voluntary benefits are the most commonly offered by employers.
5. Accident insurance
Accident insurance is among the most prevalent voluntary benefit offerings provided by employers: 68 percent offer the protection to their employees.
Other voluntary products that might be making the list in the next couple years? Towers Watson reports critical illness
, identity theft and financial counseling are the top voluntary benefits to watch in the coming years.
remains a popular voluntary benefit, with 80 percent of employers offering the benefit.
Diabetes, heart disease, blindness and pregnancy complications all can be affected by dental hygiene and inflate health costs overall.
Benefits experts have long argued disability insurance
is just as important as life insurance. And employers seem to agree: Eighty percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson offer it.
According to the Social Security Administration, a staggering 30 percent of people will encounter a disability of three months or longer at some point during their working years.
Employers also see big value in vision insurance: 84 percent offer it.
Voluntary vision coverage is typically a popular product.
“We use it as a recruiting tool,” Spencer Peery, business manager at Bailey Lauerman & Associates, an advertising agency in Lincoln and Omaha, Neb., told Benefits Selling in August.
“These benefits keep our employees healthier," he said. "They use dental and vision coverage almost as much as they use health insurance, for both prevention and general care.”
The survey reports that life insurance is the most popular voluntary benefit: 94 percent of the 320 large employers surveyed offer it.
Individual life policies were some of the first voluntary products sold in the U.S. workplace. Today, 81 percent of individuals with life insurance have workplace coverage, while half of individuals look to their employer as the only source for coverage, according to a 2012 ING study.
But despite life insurance offerings at work, industry experts say most Americans are underinsured
, if they're insured at all.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com