The Certified Application Counselor (CAC) Program: Facts about the CAC Designation for Organizations

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September 2013

The certified application counselor (CAC) program provides an opportunity for people and organizations to get trained and certified to help the uninsured understand their new health coverage options, apply for financial help with coverage, and enroll in private health plans through the new health insurance marketplaces.

Is the CAC program available in all of the new health insurance marketplaces?

Yes. Every new health insurance marketplace is required to offer a CAC program.

  • In states with a federally facilitated or partnership marketplace, the CAC program requires participants to complete a five-hour training that covers the basics of health insurance, the new health insurance marketplaces, how to assist consumers, and privacy and security standards.
  • Individuals and organizations in state-based marketplaces should check with their marketplace for information about training and certification opportunities through their marketplace’s CAC program.

How much does the CAC program cost?

In states with federally facilitated marketplaces, there is no federal fee to take the CAC training or to obtain certification, although individual states may establish additional requirements. The training materials for the federal CAC program are publicly available online at

How will CACs be funded?

CACs will not receive funding from the marketplaces. They are able to obtain financial support from other sources, including federal, state, and/or private funds.

What is the certification process?

Federally Facilitated and Partnership Marketplaces:

  • Each organization must submit an application with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to become designated as a “CAC organization.” There is no deadline for applications and no limit to the number of organizations that may be designated by CMS. The application is available online at
  • Individuals interested in serving as CACs in a federally facilitated or partnership marketplace must be affiliated with an organization that has been designated by the marketplace as a “CAC organization” to obtain the certification.
  • After an organization obtains the “CAC organization” designation, individuals associated with the organization can complete the web-based training and take the CAC certification exam.
  • Individuals who pass the CAC training will receive a certificate and, in most states, can begin to assist consumers as CACs. States can establish additional training and certification requirements for CACs (regardless of who is operating the marketplace in that state). Individuals and organizations should contact the appropriate state agency (typically, the department of insurance) to find out how to meet any additional requirements.
  • CAC organizations are required to disclose any conflicts of interest both to the marketplace and to the consumers they serve, and they must agree to act in the best interest of the consumers they assist.

State-Based Marketplaces

Organizations and individuals in states with state-based marketplaces should contact their marketplace for more information on their state’s certification process.


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