(Bloomberg) -- More than 8.5 million people have signed up forindividual health plans through Obamacare’s government-run shoppingmarket this year or had their coverage renewed, U.S. officials saidWednesday.

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The report tallies enrollees for 2016 coverage through Dec. 26in 38 states that use the Patient Protection and Affordable CareAct’s federal marketplace, the Centers for Medicareand Medicaid Services said.

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There was a Dec. 17 deadline for people to choose coverage thatbegins Jan. 1. About 8.3 million people had signed up through Dec.19.

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Read: PPACA insurance not ideal for median-incomehouseholds

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Health-care industries such as hospitals and health insurers aswell as investors are watching the enrollment numbers closely todetermine what they might expect in terms of future business.

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And sign-ups this year are particularly important fordetermining whether PPACA is thriving in the lead-up to an electionyear.

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The U.S. has estimated that about 9.9 million people will beenrolled in PPACA plans by the end of 2016, compared with aprojected 9.1 million at the close of 2015. Last year’s sign- upperiod began two weeks later, and an additional state, Hawaii, isusing the federal exchange this year.

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About 71 percent of people who signed up were renewing coverageand 60 percent returned to healthcare.gov to update theirinformation, check out their options or select a new plan, CMSsaid.

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The compares to less than 15 percent of enrollees in Medicare’sprescription drug plan who change their coverage any given year.People who shop around in the PPACA market to find a plan with thesame coverage level could save more than $600 a year, according toCMS.

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People can still sign up for coverage that begins later in theyear, and the data don’t include enrollment from states like NewYork and California, which run their own health-insurancemarketplaces.

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Jan. 15 is the last day to enroll or change plans for coveragestarting Feb. 1, and Jan. 31 is the last day for coverage startingMarch 1.

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