New Jersey and Pennsylvania are seeing strong health insurance enrollment increases on their Affordable Care Act marketplaces, as consumers take advantage of a second year of increased subsidies under a federal law designed to help the American economy through the coronavirus pandemic.

In New Jersey, enrollment for 2022 plans was up 27% through Dec. 5, compared with the same period last year. The state’s total enrollment was 286,955, up from 226,727 last year, during the current open enrollment period starting Nov. 1.

Consumers can still sign up for ACA

The increase is smaller in Pennsylvania, but still a solid 12%, to 357,312, through Dec. 15, which is when enrollment ended for plans starting Jan. 1, 2022. The comparable figure a year ago was 319,747. Until Jan. 15 Pennsylvania consumers can still sign up at Pennie.com for plans that start in February.

New Jersey residents have until Dec. 31 to buy coverage that starts Jan. 1, and until the end of January for coverage starting in February. Consumers can sign up at GetCoveredNJ. Nine out of ten will receive a subsidy, state officials said.

“We are thrilled that residents are taking advantage of the significant financial help that is now available in New Jersey because of federal and state actions taken to lower the cost of quality, affordable health insurance,” Marlene Caride, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, said in a statement.

Insurance got cheaper for many people

The subsidies were increased by the American Rescue Plan Act in April.

Before the changes, subsidies were only available to people who earned less than 400% of the federal poverty level — about $51,000 for an individual.

Under the new law for 2021 and 2022, consumer payments will be limited to 8.5% of their income, effectively increasing the subsidies they can receive.

In another example, a family of four with $39,750 in annual income could have paid as much as $137 a month for insurance this year, or $1,644 yearly, under the old rules.

The new law knocked their premium down to zero.

Pennsylvania data show that some consumers are using increased subsidies to trade up to better plans.

The percentage of consumers choosing “Gold” plans, which cost more, but cover more and have lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, increased to 34% this year, compared to 26% last year.

The trend is up nationally

Nationwide, a record high 13.6 million people signed up for health coverage through Dec. 15 on ACA marketplaces operated by states and the federal government, the Biden administration said Wednesday. The previous record was 12.7 million in 2016, according to Kaiser Health News.

The big reason for the increases are the new discounts on premiums, Kaiser reported. Some people may also have lost job-based coverage during the pandemic and need to get insurance on their own.