Road Reads

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BOOK: "Patients Beyond Borders" by Josef Woodman (Healthy Travel Media, $22.95.)

TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone contemplating going abroad for dental or medical procedures.

Forget shady Mexican clinics for phony cancer treatments. Today, more than 100 American-accredited hospitals around the world -- particularly in Asia -- offer complex, high-tech treatments, often in luxurious hospitals and recuperation centers.

Medical tourism is hot. Brits and Canadians, to cite two examples, head overseas to avoid long waits in a socialized medical environment. Americans are more likely to be looking for a better price. As Woodman's book notes, price differences can be so dramatic that they more than make up for the cost of traveling. Typical cost of a heart valve replacement in the United States: $160,000. In India: $9,000. Thailand: $10,000. Singapore: $12,500.

Woodman's book is a practical guide to planning a medical trip, from how to identify a respectable hospital to warnings that cross-border malpractice lawsuits are so impractical that you should consider them impossible. The best hospitals abroad maintain standards "equal to, or higher than" those in the United States, and some boast lower morbidity rates, Woodman writes, although his book doesn't delve into specific stats. -- Cindy Loose

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