North Carolina's largest health insurer says it signed up older, sicker and substantially fewer customers than expected in the first year of selling coverage on a statewide marketplace required by federal law.

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina executive said Thursday that 70 percent of the 232,000 who bought policies weren't covered by the company last year.

Blue Cross health policy vice president Barbara Morales Burke says projected sales fell by at least a third because of late action by President Obama allowing people to keep existing policies. Obama allowed a one-year extension last November to people whose coverage was being canceled because it didn't cover basic required benefits such as pre-existing conditions or hospitalization.

Morales Burke says the majority kept plans that would have been canceled.