The 5 Best Healthcare ETFs of 2023

The 5 Best Healthcare ETFs of 2023

See the top-performing healthcare ETFs of 2023 and an outlook on the health sector.

Research Lead
Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: Lisa Barr

Many health sector ETFs have struggled in 2023 as investor fears over government-mandated drug price caps have kept a lid on related stocks. In Q1, inverse ETFs betting against health stocks outperformed, but despite headwinds, big pharma funds recovered in Q2. See the best healthcare ETFs by performance, as well as details on the top-performing funds. 

What Is a Healthcare ETF?

A healthcare ETF is an exchange-traded fund that is specifically focused on tracking the performance of companies within the healthcare sector. The healthcare sector encompasses a wide range of industries and companies involved in various aspects of healthcare, including medical treatment, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, healthcare services and more.

5 Best Healthcare ETFs of 2023 by Performance

The best healthcare ETFs of 2023, as measured by performance, have benefited by outsized gains within the medical devices industry. Returns for the broad-based healthcare index funds have been dragged down by the lackluster performance of pharma stocks and biotechnology, which tend to receive large allocations in these funds. 

Here are the best healthcare ETFs based on year-to-date performance through September 15, 2023. 

TickerFund NameYTD ReturnAUMExpense Ratio
MEDIHarbor Healthcare ETF12.72%$4.47M0.80%
RXDProShares UltraShort Health Care8.73%$1.14M0.95%
BISProShares UltraShort NASDAQ Biotechnology8.72%$4.67M0.95%
PPHVanEck Pharmaceutical ETF6.85%$444.44M0.36%
LABDDirexion Daily S&P Bear 3X Shares5.21%$78.041.09%

Note: Leveraged and inverse ETFs are primarily used for advanced short-term trading and hedging strategies and are not generally suitable for beginning investors or long-term investment strategies.

Harbor Healthcare ETF 

The Harbor Healthcare ETF (MEDI) is an actively managed fund that invests primarily in large-cap U.S. companies in a range of differentiated healthcare products, technologies and services that meet the management team's valuation criteria. 

  • YTD return: 12.72%
  • Assets under management: $4.47 million
  • Expense ratio: 0.80%
  • As of date: September 15, 2023

ProShares UltraShort Health Care

The Proshares UltraShort Health Care (RXD) fund daily inverse exposure to the S&P Health Care Select Sector Index, which is broad sampling of health care providers and services, biotechnology, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

  • YTD return: 8.73%
  • Assets under management: $1.14 million
  • Expense ratio: 0.95%
  • As of date: September 15, 2023 

ProShares UltraShort NASDAQ Biotechnology 

The ProShares UltraShort NASDAQ Biotechnology (BIS) fund is an inverse ETF that provides -2x exposure to a market-cap weighted index of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

  • YTD return: 8.72%
  • Assets under management: $4.67 million
  • Expense ratio: 0.95%
  • As of date: September 15, 2023

VanEck Pharmaceutical ETF 

The VanEck Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH) seeks to track a market-cap-weighted index consisting of the 25 largest U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

  • YTD return: 6.85%
  • Assets under management: $444.44 million
  • Expense ratio: 0.36%
  • As of date: September 15, 2023 

Direxion Daily S&P Bear 3X Shares 

The Direxion Daily S&P Bear 3X Shares (LABD) fund is an inverse (-3x) ETF betting against an equal-weighted index of U.S biotechnology stocks, as well as medical research and pharmaceuticals companies.

  • YTD return: 5.21%
  • Assets under management: $78.04 million
  • Expense ratio: 1.09%
  • As of date: September 15, 2023

Outlook for Best Healthcare ETFs

The outlook for the healthcare sector appears to be turning neutral to positive for 2023 and 2024 as the Medicare pricing threat may be less of a headwind to big pharma as it initially appeared. Additionally, the best healthcare ETFs could benefit if fears of a recession in 2024 increase, as the health sector is viewed as a defensive investment because consumers tend to keep spending on health products and services during economic downturns.

Kent Thune is Research Lead for, focusing on educational content, thought leadership, content management and search engine optimization. Before joining, he wrote for numerous investment websites, including Seeking Alpha and Kiplinger. 


Kent holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and is a practicing Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) with 25 years of experience managing investments, guiding clients through some of the worst economic and market environments in U.S. history. He has also served as an adjunct professor, teaching classes for The College of Charleston and Trident Technical College on the topics of retirement planning, business finance, and entrepreneurship. 


Kent founded a registered investment advisory firm in 2006 and is based in Hilton Head Island, SC, where he lives with his wife and two sons. Outside of work, Kent enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, and working on his philosophy book, which he plans to publish in the coming year.