RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The much-smaller competitor to Blue Cross on North Carolina's "Obamacare" health insurance marketplace is raising rates by an average of almost 25 percent.

The North Carolina Insurance Department approved the rate increase for Cigna on policies sold during the six-week signup period starting Wednesday. Agency records indicate Cigna has about 21,000 customers in five counties around Raleigh.

Cigna originally wanted a 32 percent rate increase. A company spokesman said Tuesday pricing reflects market conditions and underlying economics.

About 90 percent of North Carolinians buying "Obamacare" policies received subsidies to help them afford the premiums.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is raising premiums by 14 percent on Affordable Care Act plans covering medical care in 2018. The company has 500,000 ACA policies in all 100 North Carolina counties.