What is a Navigator?

A Navigator is someone specially trained and certified by the Federal government to assist consumers in getting enrolled in coverage on the new healthcare marketplace created by the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  Navigators assist consumers in “navigating” their enrollment options at no cost to the consumer.

Download FAQs as a PDF here.

Do I need to use a Navigator?

No.  Most citizens will be able to enroll themselves in coverage without assistance by simply going to Healthcare.gov and following the prompts.  But others, for a variety for reasons, will need one-on-one assistance.

Can a Navigator turn me away?

No.  Navigators are required to provide assistance to anyone who requests it.  While some Navigators will allow walk in visits, you may be required to make an appointment.  Call ahead to find out.

Will Navigators ask for my tax records or medical records?

No.  In rare instances, like when you had a dramatic increase or decrease in salary since your last tax filing, you may need to bring additional information like a pay stub.  But your Navigator can discuss this with you when you make your appointment.

How do I find a Navigator in my area?

You may visit Healthcare.gov for a complete listing of Navigators.  Another important source is EnrollMichigan.com, a site developed by Michigan Consumers for Healthcare (MCH) that lists their statewide Navigator network.

Will there be a Navigator in my community?

The only statewide Navigator is Michigan Consumers for Healthcare.  Visit EnrollMichigan.com to find an agency in your area that is making a certified Navigator available to assist you.  If you live in the Tri-County area of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland County you will have some additional Navigator options outside the Enroll Michigan network, these include ACCESS and American Indian Health and Family Services.

Are Navigators my only option?

No.  There are also Certified Application Counselors (CACs) that can assist you.  CACs lack the same level of training Navigators receive and are allowed to have conflicts of interest.  But if your situation is relatively uncomplicated and you ask the CAC to identify any conflicts of interest, you should be fine.

 Can a CAC turn me away?

Yes.  Certified Application Counselors are not required to provide assistance to anyone who asks.  Navigators are the only ones who must provide assistance to everyone who needs it regardless of circumstance.

How long do I have to get enrolled?

You have until December 15 to get enrolled if you would like your new coverage to begin on January 1st.  You have until March 31st to get enrolled if you want to take advantage of the federal tax credits that will make purchasing private insurance more affordable.  Failing to get enrolled in coverage by March 31st could result in an IRS tax penalty under the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Will I face an IRS penalty if I can’t afford insurance?

No.  There is an affordability waiver that allows for those who can’t afford insurance to avoid a fine.  Your Navigator can explain the waiver process in the unlikely event that there are no affordable options available to you.

What if I think I’m eligible for the expanded Medicaid program?

You will still begin your enrollment process at Healthcare.gov.  But coverage in the new expanded Medicaid program will not begin until around April 1, 2014.  Your Navigator can provide details.

Can a small business use a Navigator?

Yes.  The federal government will pick up as much as 50% of the cost for small businesses (with 25 or fewer employees) to provide healthcare coverage to their employees.  Healthcare.gov is the only place a small business can access those tax credits beginning in 2014.  Your Navigator can provide details.

How do I avoid being taken in by scams?

There is only one place to enroll in federally subsidized healthcare and that is Healthcare.gov.  You should not allow anyone to misdirect you to another website.  Use only reputable organizations like Michigan Consumers for Healthcare in identifying Navigators in your community and don’t provide personal information at the doorstep.  Navigators will not be coming to your door.  You will go to the Navigator agency in your community either at their office or at a publicized community event.


What is ObamaCare?

There is no such thing as “ObamaCare.”  The term ObamaCare is merely a nickname for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which is the 2010 Federal law that triggered the sweeping health reforms the country is currently undergoing.

Will everyone be required to have health coverage by April 1, 2014?

No.  The Affordable Care Act provides for waivers from the individual mandate provision of the law under certain circumstances.  Undocumented aliens are also not eligible for coverage under the ACA.  Visit Healthcare.gov for a full listing of available waivers.

Will there be a small business mandate?

No.  Employers with fewer than 50 full time employees are not required to provide coverage to their employees.  However, there are significant tax credits available for companies with 25 or fewer employers if they would like to provide coverage voluntarily to their workers.

Will there be a large employer mandate?

Eventually.  The mandate that large employers with 50 or more full time employees provide coverage to their employees has been postponed until 2015.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became federal law in 2010, provides Michigan consumers with important protections and benefits. Find out more about how health reform helps Michigan residents and small businesses:


Learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace & your new coverage options through Obamacare
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