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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses taking shape in the General Assembly is drawing howls from consumer advocates.

The House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday considers a proposal creating the state’s health benefit exchange, the marketplace of affordable private health plans to those who now have the hardest time finding coverage.

States must create their own health benefit exchanges by 2014 or the federal government will do it for them under terms of the Obama administration’s health care overhaul law passed last year.

Adam Searing of the North Carolina Health Access Coalition says the proposed legislation stacks the deck to protect insurance companies from real competition. He says the legislation would tack on an administration fee for middle-class consumers shopping for coverage.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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