A team of British researchers has been issuing public warnings to governments and health care organizations all over the world to avoid falling for the hype that seems to surround the idea of medical tourism.
The compelling lure or promise of extremely lucrative markets and significant global marketing opportunities builds a kind of aura around medical tourism and often makes it very hard to resist.
The medical professionals who conducted the research in the United Kingdom (UK) have stepped forward to directly challenge the view -- or the belief -- that there are rapidly growing numbers of people worldwide that are now ready to travel great distances across national borders and even vast oceans to get much needed medical treatment for a broad variety of health or cosmetic reasons.
The researchers claim that the perceived markets of vast numbers of medical tourists simply don't exist, that in fact, there are relatively few people with the financial means and the desire to become true medical tourists.
The fact is, according to the English medical team, the ability to become a medical tourist is generally restricted to citizens of very affluent countries which means there are actually very few people with the financial means to seek medical help in a foreign land.
The remainder of people who travel to other countries to get medical help are really "health tourists," people desperate for medical help who can't afford to pay for the services they want in their own country and who will be unable to pay for those same services in a new country.
So while the perception is that there are growing numbers of true medical tourists who have the financial means to travel to other countries for medical assistance, legions of well-heeled people who can, in effect, create a new market and infuse valuable currency into an economy, that simply is not the case.
There are seemingly countless people in need of health care that will travel outside the borders of the countries where they live, will visit other countries to get help, will willingly accept medical care from doctors they don't know, but these people can't pay for the services they want.