Facts about the Certified Application Counselor Program

July 2014

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Certified Application Counselors (CACs) provide free, unbiased assistance to consumers applying for and enrolling in health coverage.

CAC programs exist in every state, but the rules and training requirements vary. In most states (including all states where the federal government operates the marketplace), individuals who want to become CACs have to do this through a CAC organization (an organization designated by the marketplace to oversee individual CACs). Many types of organizations can become CAC organizations, including community health centers, faith-based organizations, health care providers, and city health departments, to name a few.

Why Become a CAC Organization?

The first open enrollment period made it clear that consumers applying for health coverage want in-person assistance and that those who receive it are more likely to successfully enroll in coverage. Every state has Navigators and community health centers that receive funding to provide enrollment help, but there are often not enough assisters to meet consumer demand. The CAC program provides a pathway for other interested organizations and individuals to receive training and become certified to provide enrollment assistance.

CAC duties include:

  • Helping consumers apply for and enroll in health coverage through marketplaces, Medicaid, and CHIP
  • Working with consumers to help them understand their coverage
  • Agreeing to work in the best interest of the consumer, without steering to specific plans
  • Optional: Conducting outreach and education to consumers about health coverage options

Process for Becoming a CAC Organization

Federally Facilitated Marketplaces: In states where the federal government operates the marketplace, organizations that want to become a CAC organization complete an online application that must be approved by the marketplace. Once approved, the CAC organization can certify staff or volunteers as individual CACs. Individual CACs must complete an online training and pass an exam (see Figure 1). There is no federal charge to become a CAC organization or complete the federal CAC training.


Figure 1: The relationship between the federally facilitated marketplaces, CAC organizations, and individual CACs.

State-Based Marketplaces: States that run their own marketplaces each have different requirements for certifying and training CACs.

Funding: CACs do not receive funding from themarketplace. However, CAC organizations can leverage funding from private, local, state, or federal sources or can repurpose existing funding to support their CAC program.

Want more information?

In preparation for the next open enrollment period, Enroll America is working to identify new CAC organizations and to help new and existing CAC organizations attract volunteers to serve as CACs. If you or your organization is interested in learning more, contact us at bestpractices@enrollamerica.org.

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