Patients Beyond Borders: book review

Patients Beyond Borders is a book written for US citizens who are considering traveling abroad to save money on healthcare. It is written by Josef Woodman and published by Healthy Travel Media. The official website is

In addition to Americans, citizens in countries where certain procedures are very expensive (hard to imagine anyplace being more expensive than the US) or difficult to get in a timely fashion (transplants come to mind although that can raise ethical questions for some) will also find this book useful. People who don’t want to be convinced that medical tourism is safe and cost-effective shouldn’t bother with this book. However, if you want to be convinced that traveling abroad for surgery, dental work, or what have you is a good decision, Patients Beyond Borders makes a strong case.

It’s worth noting that Americans with good health insurance are less likely to need to travel abroad for healthcare. If you don’t have insurance, you may want to look into it now. The ACA applies to everybody in America and while I don’t want to get in on the controversy, I will say that if you can benefit from the law, then you should!

The author of Patients Beyond Borders, Josef Woodman, argues that you can find healthcare specialists and hospitals abroad that are as good or better than those in the US. He writes that if you’re considering a procedure that will cost over $6,000 in the US, you will probably save money by traveling abroad. He does note that you need to keep your American doctors in the loop and heed their advice (see the Jude Jarvis story).

Woodman spends the rest of the book proving his claim by covering JCI accredited hospitals and health travel agents that help medical travelers plan their trips. The hospitals and health travel agents are organized by country and the major medical tourism destinations are covered. These include a few that have been mentioned in this blog such as Thailand, Singapore, and India (be sure to read the comment here).

Patients beyond Borders also covers Brazil, Caribbean countries, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, and UAE. For each country, Woodman gives an overview of treatments popular with medical tourists visiting the country, lists well-known clinics and hospitals, gives contact information and brief overviews of health travel planners, and names a few hotels at which travelers can rest and recover.

I’m not sure that I would use the lists of hotels. For example in the chapter on Budapest, Hungary two hotels are mentioned (one deluxe and one moderate). Clearly there are more options in Budapest so the limited information in Patients Beyond Borders will be of very limited use. I wouldn’t use it all. The best bet might be to have the health travel agent find something near whichever hospital the medical tourist ends up choosing.

One point that Woodman stresses is that patients, not health travel agents, are responsible for choosing the hospital and physician. One very useful section in Patients Beyond Borders is the 10 “must-ask” questions designed to begin a dialogue with potential doctors abroad. Another useful section helps readers choose health travel agents.

All in all, if you want to travel abroad for healthcare or are willing to be convinced to travel abroad for healthcare, Patients Beyond Borders is for you. The book can help you get to know which procedures are common in which countries, locate reputable hospitals, contact health travel agents, and help you communicate with doctors and health travel agents.

If you want to travel without using a health travel agent, you’ll need more than Woodman’s general and limited travel advice in order to find flights and hotels but if you don’t know how to book these things on your own, you probably don’t want to start when you need an important and expensive medical procedure.

If you’re looking for details on the dangers of medical travel abroad or if you want a book that will give you reasons not to visit countries outside the US for healthcare, you need to look elsewhere.

Filed Under: Medical tourism

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  1. Rcon Pascua says:

    I love reading books, especially about travel and tourism. “Patients Beyond Borders” sounds really interesting and very informative. I’d definitely grab a copy of that book.

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