President Bush's victory last November has given health care stocks their widely expected post-election bounce. But owning individual health care names remains perilous, a lesson learned the hard way most recently by investors in Merck ( MRK) and Chiron ( CHIR), among others. One way investors can smooth out the risk -- while paying a third of the costs of the average open-end health care mutual fund -- is to buy health care exchange traded funds, which have the characteristics of a mutual fund yet still trade very much like stocks. Three of the four health care ETFs available -- Health Care Select Sector SPDR ( XLV), iShares Dow Jones U.S. Healthcare ( IYH) and the Vanguard Health Care VIPERs ( VHT) -- focus solely on U.S. stocks. Each member of the trio returned close to 9% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 gained 6.4%. The XLV, IYH and VHT could be considered top-heavy, with each ETF holding well over 50% of its assets in the same 10 names and 25% of their assets in just two stocks, Pfizer ( PFE) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ). Rounding out the list are: Amgen ( AMGN), Abbott Laboratories ( ABT), Merck, Medtronic ( MDT), UnitedHealth ( UNH), Wyeth ( WYE), Eli Lilly ( LLY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY). The iShares S&P Global Healthcare Sector ( IXJ), the fourth pharma ETF, has trailed the U.S. benchmark index by a slight 20 basis points since last October. Since this index also incorporates international manufacturers, it carries European pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK), Novartis ( NVS) and Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY) in its top 10, displacing Medtronic, Wyeth and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The four ETFs shake out quite differently beyond their top 10 holdings, however. The XLV is a select sector SPDR (often referred to as a "Spider") comprising the 55 health care stocks in the S&P 500. As a result, the XLV is the most concentrated of the group and therefore the most susceptible to price swings if a major pharmaceutical company stumbles.