Adam Chiara file photo

Connecticut’s virtual marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act reached a milestone Monday when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved their connection to the federal data services hub.

The health insurance exchange, which is being called Access Health CT, needed the approval so it can begin enrolling Connecticut residents on Oct. 1. Connecticut is one of 17 states that opted to set up its own exchange, instead of defaulting to the federal government to manage the exchange on behalf of its residents.

The federal data services hub will help the exchange determine eligibility and help it verify income through sources such as the Internal Revenue Service. Residents under 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $94,200 per year for a family of four, will receive a subsidy if they purchase their insurance through the exchange.

“Establishing the connection with the Federal hub was a highly complex undertaking, and one which was approached with the utmost attention to accuracy and security,” Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan, said Monday. “We couldn’t be more pleased to meet the high standards set in place for connection approval, and move one step closer to launching our marketplace.”

Enrollment in the exchange will occur over the phone, online, or in person at one of two Access Health CT storefronts in New Britain and New Haven. There will be about 70 people answering the phones and more than 100,000 Connecticut residents are expected to sign-up in its first year of operation. But the biggest influx of individuals enrolling isn’t expected to happen until December and March 2014. Signing up will take about 55 minutes and only about 3 percent of consumers will be able to do it without any help.

Three insurance carriers will be offering three levels of plans on the exchange. Each plan offers a bronze, silver, or gold tier and the monthly premiums and benefits vary, but consumers can figure out a rough estimate of what they would have to pay if they decided to sign up for one of these plans by using the calculator on the Access Health CT web site.

Also, here’s the math behind the calculations, along with information about the subsidies that apply based on income level.

There are some who may opt not to buy any health insurance. Those individuals will be required to pay a penalty.

The penalty for not buying health insurance in 2014 is $95 per adult, $285 for a family, or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. In 2015 the penalty increases to $325 per adult, $975 for a family, or 2 percent of annual income, whichever is greater. By 2016 the tax will be $695 per adults, $2,085 for a family, or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever is greater.

Federal officials estimate that about six million people will chose to pay a penalty each year instead of purchasing coverage.

Click here for more information from the Connecticut Health Investigative Team on the tax consequences.