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Should You Invest in the Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT)?

Designed to provide broad exposure to the Healthcare – Broad segment of the equity market, the Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) is a passively managed exchange traded fund launched on 01/26/2004.

Retail and institutional investors increasingly turn to passively managed ETFs because they offer low costs, transparency, flexibility, and tax efficiency; these kind of funds are also excellent vehicles for long term investors.

Investor-friendly, sector ETFs provide many options to gain low risk and diversified exposure to a broad group of companies in particular sectors. Healthcare – Broad is one of the 16 broad Zacks sectors within the Zacks Industry classification. It is currently ranked 2, placing it in top 13%.

Index Details

The fund is sponsored by Vanguard. It has amassed assets over $15.47 billion, making it one of the largest ETFs attempting to match the performance of the Healthcare – Broad segment of the equity market. VHT seeks to match the performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Health Care 25/50 Index before fees and expenses.

The MSCI US Investable Market Health Care 25/50 Index is made up of stocks of U.S. companies within the health care sector.


Cost is an important factor in selecting the right ETF, and cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive counterparts if all other fundamentals are the same.

Annual operating expenses for this ETF are 0.10%, making it one of the least expensive products in the space.

It has a 12-month trailing dividend yield of 1.53%.

Sector Exposure and Top Holdings

Even though ETFs offer diversified exposure that minimizes single stock risk, investors should also look at the actual holdings inside the fund. Luckily, most ETFs are very transparent products that disclose their holdings on a daily basis.

This ETF has heaviest allocation in the Healthcare sector–about 100% of the portfolio.

Looking at individual holdings, Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) accounts for about 8.12% of total assets, followed by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY).

The top 10 holdings account for about 46.84% of total assets under management.

Performance and Risk

The ETF has lost about -6.96% so far this year and is down about -5.99% in the last one year (as of 11/13/2023). In that past 52-week period, it has traded between $223.10 and $255.96.

The ETF has a beta of 0.71 and standard deviation of 15.05% for the trailing three-year period, making it a medium risk choice in the space. With about 413 holdings, it effectively diversifies company-specific risk.


Vanguard Health Care ETF holds a Zacks ETF Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on expected asset class return, expense ratio, and momentum, among other factors. Because of this, VHT is a great option for investors seeking exposure to the Health Care ETFs segment of the market. There are other additional ETFs in the space that investors could consider as well.

IShares Global Healthcare ETF (IXJ) tracks S&P Global 1200 Healthcare Sector Index and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) tracks Health Care Select Sector Index. IShares Global Healthcare ETF has $3.85 billion in assets, Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF has $36.07 billion. IXJ has an expense ratio of 0.42% and XLV charges 0.10%.

Bottom Line

To learn more about this product and other ETFs, screen for products that match your investment objectives and read articles on latest developments in the ETF investing universe, please visit Zacks ETF Center.

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Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT): ETF Research Reports

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV): ETF Research Reports

iShares Global Healthcare ETF (IXJ): ETF Research Reports

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Zacks Investment Research


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