The bull market, which is about to become the longest running in recent history, has produced healthy returns for investors. The S&P 500 is up well over 300 percent over the last nine years, but health insurance stocks have logged even more impressive gains.
The S&P Managed Care sector, made up of the largest insurers, has gained more than 1,100 percent during the market's bull run. That's more than twice as much as the gains in the biotech sector. The iShares Nasdaq Biotech Index ETF is up about 500 percent during the period.
Yet, in March 2009, when the stock market hit bottom, health insurance stocks hardly seemed like a sure bet. In the lead up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the threat of a single-payer plan and new Obamacare regulations weighed on insurers.
"The perception was that the Affordable Care Act was going to be bad for health insurers," explained Wells Fargo analyst Peter Costa, "and insurance stocks were really very broken."
"In April of 2009 they were at the deepest discount to the market that they'd been since the 1990s ... (trading) at a 50 percent discount to the S& P 500 forward price earnings multiple," said Matt Borsch, health-care analyst at BMO Capital.
Nine years later, two of the biggest health-care winners have seen large growth in part because of Obamacare.