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Who else wants 5 of the best ASX healthcare shares?

The Australian Dollar ($A) to US Dollar ($) exchange rate is down, big four bank shares are in strife, interest rates are low, and the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is in a nosedive.

Is your share portfolio in need of a check-up?

Like mine, if your portfolio needs a revival of quality Australian shares, the following five healthcare companies should be on your watchlist:

  1. ResMed Inc. (CHESS) (ASX: RMD)

I bang on about ResMed Inc. shares like a broken record, but I’m happy to be on record as saying ResMed Inc is a good edition to almost every portfolio — at the right price, of course. ResMed develops devices for the treatment of sleep apnea and related respiratory disorders. It is listed on both the New York and Australian share markets.

  1. Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH)

Another stalwart in Australia’s small but rich medical devices industry is Cochlear. With shares of the world-leading hearing device maker changing hands for a cool $104 each, you may think Cochlear is an expensive stock. Sure, Cochlear’s most explosive growth is arguably behind it. However, like ResMed, Cochlear serves a massive and growing market with a leading product portfolio.

  1. Somnomed Limited (ASX: SOM)

The last medical device manufacturer on this list, SomnoMed, is a name you’ve likely never heard. It has a market capitalisation of just $133 million (that compares to ResMed’s $11.2 billion), but remains a great prospect for long-term growth. SomnoMed operates in a similar market to ResMed, but its products are simpler, cheaper, and less invasive. The market may have caught up to SomnoMed’s short-term potential, but for those who like its product and are willing to hold onto shares for the long-term, it appears worthy of more attention.

  1. CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

With the IMS Institute forecasting spending on medicine to hit nearly $1.3 trillion in 2018, the global pharmaceutical industry is ginormous. So despite its $47 billion price tag, CSL Ltd does not even come close to some giant companies in the industry. However, CSL is one of Australia’s true health care success stories, bringing a number of promising blood-plasma drugs to the global marketplace.

  1. Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC)

The $12.5 billion hospital operator, Ramsay Health Care, has been an overwhelming success for investors over the past 15 years – with shares up 4,025%. Ramsay has extended its reach beyond Australia, to Asia and parts of Europe, and is now one of the top five hospital operators in the world.

Foolish takeaway

Australia’s healthcare industry is small by global standards but boasts great businesses amongst its ranks. Moreover, spending on healthcare is expected to balloon as more Aussies move into retirement and the government seeks to divest its responsibility. For investors seeking a health kick to their portfolio, there are many shares worthy of your consideration.

ResMed, Cochlear, CSL and Ramsay are good companies, however, personally, I'd rather look for other - faster growing - dividend shares to add to my portfolio, such as the one The Motley Fool's expert analysts hand-picked as their best dividend share idea for 2016.

Indeed, our resident dividend experts named their Top Dividend Share for 2016. Not only are the shares dirt cheap, the company is growing and trading on a 5.6% fully franked dividend yield. Simply click here to gain access to this comprehensive FREE investment report, including the name of this fast growing ASX dividend share.

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Motley Fool Contributor Owen Raszkiewicz owns shares of Somnomed, CSL Ltd, Cochlear and ResMed. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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