Lots of people are betting big on coming reforms in the health-care industry. But while there's obviously a lot at stake in the discussions going on in Washington, you don't have to guess right about what's going to happen in order to profit from the industry.
When investing in health care, many people stick with the big names you think of first. The Health Care SPDR exchange-traded fund, for instance, has big positions in giants like Johnson & Johnson
But it's highly uncertain whether well-known companies will benefit most from health-care reform -- or whether companies that aren't household names will reap greater rewards.
Gambling isn't best
Here's my take on it, though: Think twice before investing in anything as a bet. Yes, health-care reforms are likely to change the investing landscape quite a bit, leaving some companies winners and others losers.
But until we know exactly what reforms are going to happen, how they will be executed, and which companies will be gaining or losing business, we can't be sure which investments will pan out best. We'd just be taking our best guess about whether medical technology stocks like Medtronic
Sure, educated guesses can pan out, but putting too much of your money into one or two stocks based solely on which reforms you think will be enacted is a risky proposition.
That said, though, many believe that the health-care industry is a great opportunity regardless of what reform efforts succeed, simply because it's an industry that's likely to keep growing considerably in the years ahead, as our population ages.
If that's why you see health care as a great opportunity, then a diversified portfolio of health-care stocks could help you navigate through whatever reforms eventually go through. Not all of them will do well, but with many stocks clearly undervalued in this depressed economy, you'll likely see good results in the long run.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Mindray Medical, which is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.