A sector that's staying healthy

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The employment market in the private health insurance sector is stable, but not spectacular, with recruitment concentrated on marketing and communication roles.

Penny Lovett, HR director at Bupa, the parent company of HBA, MBF and Mutual Community, says health insurance is one of the last expenses people usually give up in tough economic times.

"Employment has been pretty steady across most disciplines in health insurance. When we have new positions, we ask ourselves whether we need to fill the role with a full-time employee or could we do something different. As a result we've started hiring more contractors."

Chris Karagounis, executive director at headhunters Alex Kaar, confirms that recruitment is staying consistent overall, but he believes that demand for strategic and commercially competent marketing, product and communications professionals is set to increase.

Mark O'Connor, director at search firm Perceptor, says industry consolidation as triggered a greater focus on issues such as brand management and customer retention, which has generated more demand for marketing candidates.

Provider-relations specialists are also highly sought after because of their rare skill sets, according to Karagounis. "They must be health specialists with a health economics background, have strong commercial skills, and be working in a hospital/healthcare organisation - in a risk/compliance role - or in another health fund in a similar role," he adds.

Karagounis says the stability offered by health insurance jobs has made them more attractive to candidates in the current economic climate.

However, he warns that the Federal Government's plan to means test health insurance rebates could make it difficult for health funds to sustain their existing corporate structures.

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