If you follow the headlines, you'd think the last place to invest your hard-earned money is in healthcare.
After all, Obamacare remains one of the most polarizing pieces of legislation enacted in a generation.
Consider that a new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows that just 39% of likely U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act, while 54% view it unfavorably.
It will also play a huge role in this year's congressional elections.
A new poll by USA Today and the Pew Research Center found that 54% of those surveyed say a candidate's stance on Obamacare is "very important" in deciding the election.
But here's the thing. As technology investors, our job is to look beyond the politics of the moment and take a look at what others may be missing.
Turns out, if you picked the right healthcare investment over the last two years, you would have beaten the S&P 500's returns by more than 50%. And here's why...
This Demographic Trend Is a Rock-Solid Profit Foundation
And the reason is simple - despite our political climate, companies that can bring new advances to the market in a cost-effective manner and firms that can help control rising health expenses are witnessing a boom in demand for their products and services.
That means new drugs, medical devices, and technology platforms that keep a lid on costs will continue to do well no matter what happens with the midterm elections and Obamacare.
The demand for healthcare will only grow. The United States has more than 76 million Baby Boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964. They are living longer, more active lives and getting the medical treatments needed to do so.
Thus, we have years of sustained demand for healthcare, as well as medical technology, benefits processing platforms, biotech, new drugs, and devices like artificial knees and hips.
But there's just one problem. The sheer volume of potential stocks in all the affected sectors presents us with a bewildering number of choices.
And in such a fluid, dynamic market, separating the long-term winners from the losers and the also-rans is no easy matter.
Here's the Best Door into a Crowded Room of Choices
That's why investors would do well to take a good look at First Trust Health Care AlphaDEX (NYSE: FXH) ("First Trust Healthcare"). This investment gives us access to several sectors within the overall healthcare field. These include pharmaceuticals, life sciences tools, medical equipment and services, as well as biotech and healthcare providers.
With just this one investment we get insurance, medical records technology, genetics, and even in vitro diagnostics.
Clearly, this fund has an excellent mix of companies. Let's start with Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK), a medical device firm that is a leader in hip and knee joint replacements.
Then there's Charles River Laboratories (NYSE: CRL). The company provides outsourcing for clinical research, allowing drug firms to keep their overhead down and pass the savings on to patients and their insurers.
But that's just a taste of what this broad ETF has to offer. The top 20 holdings read like a "Who's Who" of medical science.
These are companies that will do well no matter how the nation chooses to manage its healthcare dollars:
Illumina, Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) is a groundbreaking company with a unique focus on using genetics for medical care and is a leader in the budding field of personalized medicine.
I believe taking individual genetic makeups into account will become increasingly critical in the years ahead as more people look for medicine tailored to their specific needs.
It means that what I call "micro-medicine" will lower costs as it is hones in on the specific traits of each patient, rather than treating millions with the exact same drugs only to get varying results.
With a $22 billion market cap, Illumina trades at roughly $172 and has excellent financials.
For its part, Actavis Plc. (NYSE: ACT) is a global pharmaceutical firm taking a dual approach to drugs - it makes both branded and lower-cost generics.
And talk about a deep drug pipeline. The company also has some 1,000 products on the market today, which has to be one of the broadest revenues streams in the industry.
What's more, Actavis just completed acquisitions that will boost its standing as one of the world's fastest-growing specialty pharmaceutical firms as it adds even more cash flow.
The firm's recent $28 billion acquisition of Forest Laboratories ranks as a major "inversion deal." That means the acquisition allows Actavis to take advantage of Forest's location in tax-friendly Ireland.
Currently trading at $218 on Wednesday, Actavis has solid financials and a $38 billion market cap.
WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP) is a managed healthcare provider with an exceptionally large reach. In fact, the company is the largest for-profit managed healthcare provider in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Through its affiliates, WellPoint has served some 67 million patients, more than half of whom are enrolled in its healthcare plans. Tracing its roots to 1992, WellPoint operates in a dozen states.
The company has such a huge patient footprint with its affiliated health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other managed care companies, that it provides coverage to 1 out of 9 Americans
Consequently, WellPoint has been one of the most involved providers in the Obamacare public exchanges. In fact, it has a presence in 14 exchanges, having enrolled nearly 700,000 patients.
It even operates a life insurance company. WellPoint has a market cap of $31 billion and the stock currently trades at around $112.
First Trust Healthcare allows us to invest in literally thousands of products as well as dozens of clinical trials for new drugs. The ETF has a solid lineup of medical diagnostics, equipment, and services.
Over the past two years, which are some of the more politically unpredictable ones in the industry's history, First Trust Healthcare has beaten the market S&P 500 by some 55%.
We get all this for just $53. In other words, it trades at a fraction of some of the larger firms contained in its robust portfolio of 77 stocks.
This is an investment that allows us to take advantage of both the need for healthcare cost containment and cutting-edge, life-extending science.
It's one that investors can count on for the long haul, no matter what happens with the politics of healthcare.