Photo by Bryan Grossman Colorado’s exchange has already seen record enrollments.

Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance marketplace, reported more than 175,000 Coloradans selected health care coverage for 2017 through the state exchange during the three-month open enrollment period that ended Feb. 3. That rate is 12 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to data released by Connect for Health Colorado.

Since Nov. 1, Coloradans selected 175,964 medical and/or dental insurance plans through Connect for Health Colorado. About 27 percent of the plan selections were made by customers new to the marketplace and the remaining 73 percent are renewing customers.

Sixty-two percent of Connect for Health Colorado customers this year qualify for financial assistance, up from 60 percent a year ago, according to Luke Clarke, director of communications for Connect for Health Colorado. Monthly assistance will average $371 per household to help pay medical insurance premiums. That average subsidy is up from $294 in 2016.

Clarke said it’s “hard to know for certain” why there was such a sizable jump in enrollment.

“The national and state policy conversations may be contributing to awareness,” he said. “However, we have also refined our targeted marketing to Coloradans who are eligible for assistance but who are not insured. We are achieving better market penetration, which is something a young, successful organization expects to do. We opened our doors for business three years and four months ago, so we are a relatively young and growing enterprise.”

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Those who signed up for coverage through the marketplace but have concerns about potential shifts in the health insurance landscape have nothing to worry about, Clarke said.

“They have a one-year contract with their health insurance company,” Clarke said. “As long as they pay the premium, they are covered under the terms.”

The sign up deadline had been extended from Jan. 31, to Feb. 3 to help customers who were part of a last-minute surge of plan selections.

“We are extremely pleased with the number of Coloradans who took the important step to protect their health — both their physical and financial health — by choosing coverage through our shopping portal,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson in a news release. “The steady growth we have seen in each of our open enrollment periods shows we are making valuable progress in providing affordable health insurance to a growing number of individuals and families in Colorado.”

Coloradans who experience a qualifying life change event, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, losing employer-sponsored insurance, or those moving into Colorado, have 60 days from that event to enroll in new coverage for 2017.

Anyone whose 2016 coverage was not available for 2017 has another month — through March 1 — to select health insurance for this year.

To see Connect for Health’s 2016 report, visit connectforhealthco.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/C4HC_OE_Report_FINALv2.pdf.