The health care system in America and related exchange traded funds (ETFs) are in need of a checkup.

In 2000, the World Health Organization statistically ranked the world’s health care systems, and of 191 countries, France came in first and the United States came in 37th. Factors considered were the number of years people lived in good health, and whether everyone had access to good health care.

A second study was undertaken by the London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine which measured “amenable mortality” that measure preventable deaths due to quality of health care, and of 19 industrialized countries, France came in first and the United States came in last.

The first idea that Americans have to get their minds past is that universal health care means giving up choices. The French have a universal health care system, paid for through taxes, and still have choices upon choices regarding doctors and medicine, reports Joseph Shapiro for NPR.

The French are protected by the national insurance program that pays 70% of most bills, and is funded by payroll and income taxes. Government regulation is mandatory and helps keep costs down, such as hospital fees. In France, there are no uninsured, and there are no deductibles; the sicker you are , the more coverage you get; and new mothers are paid an allowance.

Yet France faces rising health care costs and is trying its hardest to keep them under control. Will the United States follow the lead of France and other European countries? If so, our domestic health care ETFs could benefit:

  • iShares Dow Jones US Health Care Sector Fund (IYH), down 10.5% year-to-date
  • Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV), down 11.7% year-to-date
  • HealthShares Patient Care Services (HHB), down 18% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.