More and more employers this year will begin offering voluntary employee benefits to their workers in preparation for the "real game changer" in 2014—the further implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A decade ago, voluntary products were offered mainly by larger employers as a way to increase engagement, but now organizations of all sizes are broadening their menu of voluntary benefits to offset coverage gaps, as employers further reduce their contributions to cut costs, according to MetLife's latest annual employee benefits study, released in March.

Indeed, sales of voluntary benefits in 2011 rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier, to $5.478 billion, according to research from Eastbridge Consulting Group.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.