Book review: Patients Beyond Borders

Patients Beyond Borders by Josef Woodman

High on the list of the average American’s concerns today is health care. Costs of treatment, medication, and consultations have skyrocketed with the continued privatization of the US health care industry. Many people are having to second guess whether they can afford that dental procedure or preventative surgery when it may not be covered by health insurance, even after paying high premiums. And those who must undergo necessary operations, such as a hip replacement or triple bypass surgery, are going into tremendous amounts of debt to pay for them.

The result of this situation is that many Americans are turning to other countries to meet their medical and financial needs. Medical travel has become big business in many countries that often offer nicer facilities, better service, higher success rates, and much cheaper costs than in the US.

Patients Beyond Borders is the first comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide dedicated especially to medical travel. Josef Woodman spent more than three years researching for this incredible book, traveling all over the world to visit hospitals, doctors and patients in order to collate all the information for the potential traveler. If you’re considering an alternative to prohibitively expensive medical treatment in the US, there simply is not a better book out there to provide all the information you’ll need to make an informed choice about your health; Woodman’s gentle and easy writing style is simultaneously informative and comforting.

Part One (“How to Become a Savvy, Informed, Medical Traveler”) is a detailed, step-by-step guide to finding the best facility to suit your needs. Traveling overseas is stressful enough without adding in the extra component of a surgical procedure, but Woodman carefully lays out all the issues to be aware of, the questions to ask, advice for travel companions and on working with a medical travel agent, and tips on what to do before, during, and after treatment.

Part Two (“The Most Traveled Health Destinations”) gives more specific information on the highest-rated countries for medical travel, outlining each nation’s health care policies, and providing information on typical treatments and costs, a list of health travel agents who deal with the hospitals in that country, hospitals and clinics (along with their contact information), and hotels in which to recuperate post-operation.

Part Three (“Resources and References”) provides a medical glossary for all those terms you might not be familiar with, and extensive general and treatment indices for easily finding information within the text.

The book is available through the usual retail outlets. At $22.95, it’s a bit pricey for a trade paperback, but the cost for such an amazing amount of information all in one place is well worth it; you can further justify the cost as part of your research into your own medical travel experience. The publisher has also released a digital edition through for international readers who might want to avoid high shipping costs, which also features a searchability function to pinpoint specific keywords, treatments, or locations.

Postscript: Patients Beyond Borders was of particular interest to me, as my wife traveled last year from the US to Singapore for a surgery that she’d already once endured in the US. The experiences could not have been more different; rather than take up space here discussing it, I’ll point you toward her write-up: “Women’s Health, and my Tale of Healthcare in Two Countries.” Even with air fare, the entire cost was less than half what we paid for the same procedure in the US. Health care is the biggest reason why we relocated to Singapore two months ago, and it was not a choice we made lightly, nor have regretted since.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | June 6, 2007
Category: Travel Writing

One Response to “Book review: Patients Beyond Borders”

  1. Peter D. Palczewski Says:

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