Husbands in Houston can help their wives, parents andgrandparents use the public exchange without any specialtraining.

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But people in Dallas who want to help theirgreat-great-grandparents – or first cousins, great aunts or fellowMasonic lodge members – tackle HealthCare.gov might need to get 20hours of training and endure a background check.

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Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber talks about whomust get and who need not go through a formal navigationregistration process in the state's new final regulations for navigators.

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Rathgeber developed the regulations to implement a Texas lawcreated by state Senate Bill 1795.

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act navigator programis supposed to provide a temporary, independent source of help fornew exchange users.

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Critics say PPACA and the U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices have skimped on navigator standards.

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The HHS standards apply only to navigators getting federalnavigator grant money, and even the standards for the grantrecipients are hidden inside navigator contracts, Rathgeber writesin a justification of the Texas regulations.

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The final Texas regulations set standards for background checks,training and proof identity for people who work as navigators, andthey set financial responsibility standards for the organizationsthat employ the navigators.

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Both individual navigators and navigator groups must registerwith the Texas Department of Insurance by March 1. Individualnavigators must get 20 hours of department-approved training by May1.

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Registration requirements for people who want to help friendsand relatives use the exchange system came up in a discussion ofexceptions to navigator registration requirements.

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Human resources personnel at companies using small-groupexchange plans need not register as navigators.

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Would-be exchange helpers also are exempt if they are helpingonly people “within the third degree by consanguinity orwithin the second degree by affinity,” Rathgeber says.

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See also:

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, ThinkAdvisor's insurance editor, previously was LifeHealthPro's health insurance editor. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Think_Allison.