For a travel writer, there is no surer way to attract a barrage of hate mail than to suggest foreign travel for the purpose of obtaining medical or dental treatment. Immediately, dozens of U.S. doctors and dentists accuse you of putting people's lives at risk, since only U.S. doctors and dentists are able to safely treat us. And U.S. medical and dental treatments, as we all know, are the absolute best.
If the United States had universal medical and dental insurance, and every American was able to afford treatment here at home, I would not be disposed to argue the matter. But more than 40 million Americans are without such insurance and are unable to afford many elective treatments here at home.
The proposed remedy will, therefore, not go away. Outside the United States are medical facilities and myriads of doctors and dentists willing to charge modest sums within the financial reach of nearly everyone. And more and more observers are claiming such care to be impressive and safe, the frequent equivalent of what many wealthier or insured Americans are able to obtain at home.
The latest publication to advocate the use of foreign doctors and dentists is a 324-page book, Patients Beyond Borders, by Josef D. Woodman (Healthy Travel Media 2007, $22.95). It is available directly from Healthy Travel Media, P.O. Box 17057, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, or from www.patientsbeyondborders.com, or from Amazon.com or numerous bookstores. Woodman points out that "at least 28 countries on four continents cater to the international health traveler, with more than a million patients visiting hospitals and clinics each year in countries other than their own."