What is Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act? Part 1: Non-Discrimination Rules

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Does Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act have you wondering what your obligations are regarding Non-Discrimination Rules?

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the provision the speaks to nondiscrimination. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, age, national origin, or disability in certain health programs or activities. Section 1557 strengthens long-standing Federal civil rights laws such as:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975

Screenshot of Section 1557 Final Rule

Which organizations need to comply with Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act?

  • Collage with four healthcare related iconAny health program or activity. Any part of which received funding from United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
  • Any health program or activity that HHS itself administers (including Medicaid and CHIP providers).
  • Health Insurance Marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that participate in those Marketplaces.
  • Organizations providing health insurance
  • Organizations providing healthcare
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing Facilities
  • Dental Services
  • Eye Care
  • Therapy Services
  • Medical Equipment Services
  • Hospice
  • Healthcare Insurance Carriers
  • Health Insurance Exchange
  • Companies that receive Federal assistance to fund their self-insurance employee health benefit program (regardless of the nature of business).
  • Third-Party Administrators of self-insured plans.

We’re here to help guide you through Section 1557 as it applies to non-discrimination and effective communication with clients who are blind or have low vision.  References and free resources will be provided as well.

When do organizations need to be in compliance with Section 1557?


  • March 2010: It was mandated that all Healthcare Programs or Healthcare activities that accept Federal Funding (including Medicare and CHIP) must prepare to comply with Section 1557 by 2016.
  • May 2016: The Section 1557 final rule was published with the exact language and provisions that must be adhered to.
  • July 18, 2016: The final deadline for businesses to be in compliance with Section 1557, the non-discrimination provision in the Affordable Care Act.
  • October 16, 2016: All organizations must provide notification of being responsible for Section 1557 compliance.
  • January 1, 2017: Full compliance in all aspects that may have been exempt from the original effective rule date of July 18, 2016.

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Is Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act different from the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) for persons who are blind or have low vision?

The provisions outlined in The Affordable Care Act Section 1557 are not new requirements for providing accessibility to persons who are blind or have low vision. Section 1557 is an enforcement of the ADA and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  These regulations are outlined in the Effective Communication Guidelines.

Section 1557 better defines the laws that already exist and obligates specific organizations to firmly adhere to the current laws, while providing notice to the public of the effective communication services and products that are to be provided.

Braille Works has been an industry leader for over 20 years in the United States, in supplying organizations with high quality and accurate Braille, Large Print, Audio and Accessible Electronic Documents. Allow Braille Works to be your industry guide in compliance with Section 1557 of the ACA and provider of accessible documents to help your organization be in compliance.

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