DSS has hired over 100 new staff members to help with Medicaid unwinding. The agency is also ramping up the number of contracted staff to support its shared operations with Access Health CT, including call centers and data entry.

Open enrollment for 2022 health plans on Connecticut’s Affordable Care Act exchange is now underway.

With additional subsidies available for many who joined qualified health plans, the exchange, known as Access Health CT, has held special enrollment periods throughout much of this year. Beginning Monday, consumers will be able to enroll or re-enroll in policies for 2022.

With the pandemic still lingering, Access Health is trying to reach Connecticut’s uninsured population.

“We have yet to emerge from the public health crisis, making access to quality, affordable health insurance more important than ever,” said James Michel, Access Health’s CEO. “Even if you … [previously] did not qualify for financial help, new laws and programs are providing significant savings for the 2022 plan year.”

Here’s what to know about the state’s ninth open enrollment period:

What carriers are on the exchange?

Two companies offer individual policies on the exchange – Anthem Health Plans and ConnectiCare. Beginning in January, ConnectiCare will sell policies under two different licenses – ConnectiCare Benefits Inc. and ConnectiCare Insurance Company Inc.

Anthem and ConnectiCare Benefits also offer small group plans to employers with 50 or fewer workers.

How long is open enrollment?

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15.

When does coverage begin?

For people who sign up between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, coverage will begin on Jan. 1. For those who sign up between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15, coverage will start on Feb. 1.

The plans run through Dec. 31, 2022.

Do I qualify for subsidies?

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, additional subsidies are available for qualifying people on the exchange.

Many residents who didn’t previously qualify for premium tax credits are now eligible, while those who did qualify may see increased benefits. Premium tax credits lower the monthly payment a consumer must make to an insurance company for coverage.

Prior to the rescue plan’s adoption, only people whose household income was at or below 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) were eligible for subsidies. Following its passage, Connecticut residents above that threshold also qualify. For those above 400% of the FPL (income of $51,040 for one person), annual contributions are capped at 8.5%.

With the additional subsidies, the average savings per household is $116.05 per month, or $1,392.57 per year, Access Health has said.

For more information about the rescue plan subsidies, click here.

Earlier this year, state leaders also established the Covered Connecticut program, which will extend free health coverage to as many as 40,000 people.

Households earning between 160% and 175% of the federal poverty level qualify for free coverage. A family of one at 160% of the FPL earns $20,416 annually, while a family of four earns $41,920. At 175% of the FPL, a family of one earns $22,330, while a family of four earns $45,850.

The household must also have at least one dependent child under age 19 to qualify. A child who is age 18 must be a full-time student. Eligible households will be enrolled in a silver plan on the exchange.

For more information on the Covered Connecticut program, click here.

Do the rescue plan subsidies expire?

Not until the end of 2022. Qualifying residents will have the aid for the entire 2022 plan year.

If I’m currently enrolled, am I automatically re-enrolled?

Not necessarily. About 85% of the 106,879 people now enrolled in individual plans on the exchange have selected automatic re-enrollment. Others have not. Consumers should contact Access Health if they are unsure.

Current enrollees can also change their plans during this period.

Did the state approve rate hikes?

State insurance officials did approve rate hikes for 2022 plans, though not as large as carriers had sought.

The insurance department signed off on an average increase of 5.6% for individual health plans in 2022. The carriers had requested an average rate hike of 8.6%.

For small group policies, the insurance department authorized an average increase of 6.7%. The insurers had asked for 12.9%.

The increases vary by plan. For more information, click here.

How do I sign up?

Residents can sign up online at AccessHealthCT.com or call 855-805-4325.

Call center hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The call center will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve hours are 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. It will be open extended hours on Jan. 15, from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Many of the live events that are typical for the open enrollment period have been curtailed or moved online because of the pandemic. There are some limited in-person events, including an enrollment fair on Nov. 6 at Fairfield University (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), a fair at Parker Memorial in Hartford, 2621 Main St., on Nov. 13 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and a fair at New Opportunities in Waterbury, 232 North Elm St., on Nov. 20 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

In-person help is also available at Access Health enrollment centers.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.