With a 4.3% increase during February, the cost of medical care in the U.S. continues to increase at nearly double the 2.4% pace of overall prices. So, it's no surprise that exchange-traded funds are being launched to invest in the companies benefiting from this pricing power.
On March 12,
introduced one composite and eight new sub-industry-specific health care funds. These were added to the five HealthShares ETFs that have been in the XShares product portfolio since Jan. 23.
With the addition of these 14 health and biotech related ETFs, there are now 37 funds covering this sector. No other specific sector has as many ETFs.
Let's say you are reading a scientific journal about breakthroughs with promising new cancer drugs, and you decide to invest in a biotech company that specializes in cancer drugs. Instead of betting the house on a single company, you can now buy the
HealthShares Cancer ETF
. This fund is comprised of 64.9% pharmaceutical stocks and 35.1% biotechnology stocks. By making one investment in 22 companies actively seeking novel cancer treatments, the odds of holding the one stock that hits it big are increased.
Of course, the opposite can also true. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks tend to be highly volatile, as potential new drugs succeed or fail at each stage of their clinical trials. So, if a proposed drug disappoints in trials or an existing drug is pulled from the market due to unacceptable side effects, expect to participate in the loss.
If your other investments are causing anxiety, depression and loss of sleep, or you are just plain absent-minded, the
HealthShares Neuroscience ETF
holds the companies that want to bring help.
On the other hand, if your arthritis or allergies are flaring up, the companies in the
HealthShares Autoimmune-Inflammation ETF
want to sell you their treatment.
The new surgical products to fix cataracts have to be seen to be believed. Patients with 20/200 vision can be restored to near 20/20 vision with the insertion of artificial, custom fit lenses to replace the lens clouded by the cataract. The companies supplying these types of products are included in the 44.3% sector allocation of health care products in the
HealthShares Ophthamology ETF
The one area of our economy where growth is virtually guaranteed is in the waist line. Obesity is rampant. Diabetes is becoming a risk at earlier and earlier ages.
I am personally waiting for a pill with no side effects that wipes out all my body fat so that I can eat as many strombolis and as much General Tso's chicken as I want. Some of the companies of the
HealthShares Metabolic-Endocrine Disorders ETF
are working hard to help achieve this goal.
If a cure for obesity is not found anytime soon, the companies treating the side effects of obesity, such as asthma and heart disease, are positioned to benefit. These companies are grouped into the
HealthShares Respitory/Pulmonary ETF
HealthShares Cardiology ETF
By the way, if you choose to invest in any of these new ETFs and are asked about the lack of diversification, you can always say: "At least I have my health."
Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.