After a week of talking to Southern Arizonans about the Affordable Care Act, the biggest misconception I hear is that the marketplaces are a place to get government insurance plans.

That is untrue. The marketplaces and state exchanges are a place for individuals, small businesses and families who need to buy their own, private health insurance.

The government operates the exchanges and marketplaces but does not offer its own insurance plan. Rather, it offers federal subsidies for qualified people to purchase private plans. The marketplaces can also steer people toward Medicaid if they qualify but that's not their main function.

Health reform actually protects the private insurance industry.

The Star on Sunday will publish a story talking to some local residents who give us an update on their experiences with President Obama's new health law and enrolling in insurance.

There are numerous other misunderstandings about the law.  One other major one is thinking that the marketplaces are for all Americans. That is also untrue. Anyone who gets affordable coverage through their employer, or who is on Tricare, Medicare or Medicaid does not need to use the marketplace. Most Americans actually do not need to use it.