Hawaii health exchange seeks agency for branding, awareness help

Hawaii's online health insurance marketplace issued an RFP last week seeking PR support as its moves into its first full year of operations.

HONOLULU: Hawaii’s online health insurance marketplace issued an RFP last week seeking PR support as its moves into its first full year of operations.

The nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector is shifting its focus outward toward the public. However, awareness is low across the state, so branding work is needed to promote education and enrollment, according to RFP documents.

The Connector’s contract with AOR Milici, Valenti, Ng, Pack is expiring, said Denise Esposito, procurement officer, via email. She added that because "the situation has shifted from last year, it also is a good opportunity to review partners that can best suit the Connector's needs."

The exchange is seeking a firm to help it meet goals such as positioning and reinforcing the Connector as the state’s marketplace and promoting key parts of the Affordable Care Act such as tax credits and penalties associated with health insurance. It would also work to drive awareness and enrollment among key target populations, respond quickly to changes in regulations or laws affecting the Connector, and promote additional services and products the exchange may launch, according to the documents.

All advertising, events, websites, social media, and other elements of the contract are meant to "ensure an impact much greater than the sum of its parts" and stay true to the "brand and mission of the Connector," according to the RFP.

The agency search documents also state that bidders should be aware they may have to work with other Connector partners, and they should be prepared to grow the relationship through PR strategies. Partners can include the state departments of Human Services and Commerce and Consumer Affairs, as well as local organizations, insurance brokers, agents, and producers, according to the documents.

The Connector also asks that bidders have rapid response capabilities, crisis management experience, and capabilities necessary to manage its public image, according to the RFP.

Only about 5,700 people had enrolled in healthcare plans through Hawaii’s exchange as of the midway point of this month, far fewer than expected, according to the Associated Press.

Interested bidders must notify the Connector of their intent to submit a proposal by 4 pm HST on April 1, with a proposal due date of 4 pm HST on April 25.

The RFP documents do not disclose how much the contract, which the Connector plans to award on June 1, is worth.  

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