Health-care insurance companies earn profits off the pain and misery of others. Every time an American doctor does a good deed, some insurance company somewhere cashes a check -- and an angel sheds a tear.
In the process of earning big profits, these insurers are destroying America. The high cost of health care has given a leg-up to union-unfriendly workplaces like Wal-Mart
High health-care costs compounded the problems that drove General Motors into bankruptcy, and nearly sent Ford
Meanwhile, farther north and farther up the supply chain, drugmakers like Pfizer
Our system's clearly broken. And yet, in attempting to fix it, we run the risk of destroying Capitalism As We Know It.
Psst! You're missing the point
The preceding is just a glimpse of some of the arguments we've heard voiced in the health-care debate this year. But here's the dirty little secret that no one's telling you: Health care could be a really, really big investment goldmine.
As I recently explained in "Obamacare is a Big, Fat Lie," health-care reform simply will not happen. Not on a grand scale like switching to a single-payer system. Probably not on any scale that would register industry-devastating changes. What we'll get instead is a series of piddling little tweaks that, while technically fulfilling the requirements for President Obama to be able to sign a bill this year, will certainly not reduce health-care spending to anything you could call "small."
A big opportunity
Health-care spending comprises more than 17% of the economy. Between the costs of developing, marketing, and selling drugs, artificial hearts, and Botox, paying the family doc to prescribe and install them, and giving every insurance company its cut, $1 out of every $6 we spend gets siphoned up by the all-consuming medical Hoover-vac.
That's a huge amount of money, folks, and a huge opportunity for investors. Yet the data shows that while other companies in this economy are riding a surging stock market -- Microsoft up 28% so far this year, Intel
Answer: Not much. The Vanguard Health Care ETF for example, which tracks the performance of the sector, has gained just 11% since the start of the year. Health-care investors are sitting on their hands, waiting to find out how Congress to act. Waiting to learn who the winners will be -- and fearing to buy one of the losers.
Where there's fear, there's profit
Once upon a time, a great man opined: "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful."
If there's one man to listen to on all things investing, it's Warren Buffett. That's why every week, I personally take a gander at some of the most feared stocks in the nation (as indicated by institutional selling thereof), searching for bargains. This policy has led me to multiple winners.
For example, back in January when the future of the automakers looked especially bleak, I came across a little car components maker by the name of Methode Electronics. Feared by Wall Street but loved by savvy investors, Methode boasted a number of attributes we love at Motley Fool Hidden Gems:
- An ultralow stock price of just 5.6 times earnings, which offered a huge margin of safety to cushion the fears of nervous buyers.
- A rock solid balance sheet, bulging with $50 million cash, and no debt.
- Generous servings of free cash flow -- much of which was not reflected in the firm's GAAP accounting standards-hobbled earnings statement.
Care to guess how the investment worked out? Methode is up 88% since I highlighted it.
Nor is this an isolated incident. Here at Motley Fool Hidden Gems, we bravely rush in where even angel investors fear to tread -- so long as the price is right, and the opportunities bright. And thanks to a spurious health care debate, the opportunities in medical insurers, device makers, and drug producers have never been brighter.
Now is your chance to join in the hunt for these gems of the health care world. If you're looking for some ideas to get you started, click here, and we'll give you a free, 30-day membership to Hidden Gems, and tell you all about our very best idea to profit from Obamacare right now. If you don't like it, cancel any time and don't pay a dime.
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Boeing. Pfizer and Intel are Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Rule Breakers selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy has a good lookin' chart.