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Healthcare in Turkey

This guide was written by Francine Carrel, Assistant Editor Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 27 February 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is about public and private healthcare in Turkey, and how to access it.

Introduction

Healthcare in Turkey is by no means perfect, but it is acceptable and quickly improving.

The quality of healthcare you receive will change from region to region. As you might expect, you're more likely to receive high standards of healthcare if you live in an urban centre. Rural areas have fewer resources.

The quality of healthcare in Turkey

Health Expenditure: 5.4% of GDP (US: 17.9%; France: 11.6%; Spain 8.9%; China: 5.2%) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Doctors: 1.71/1000 (US: 2,42; France: 3.38; Spain 4; China: 1.46) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Hospital Beds: 2.5/1000 (US: 3; France: 6.6; Spain: 3.1; China: 3.8) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

World Health Organization ranking of health systems (2000): 70 of 191 countries

Before coming to Turkey

Things to do before coming to Turkey

Can you go 'back home' for treatment?

Many people choose to return to their home countries for non-emergency treatment. This is due to language issues and a comforting familiarity with the system 'back home'.

If you become a resident in Turkey, you may no longer be eligible for public healthcare in your home country.

If you have health insurance back home, you may no longer be covered under your policy.

You need to check all of this before leaving the country.

Registering with a doctor/GP in Turkey

Your first point of call when it comes to healthcare in Turkey will be with your doctor (doktor/hekim).

Register with a doctor now, before you need one!

The choices available depend on where you live (in rural areas there might only be one doctor), and whether you have private health insurance.

If you have health insurance, your insurance company will probably supply you with a list of doctors they work with. You can choose from that list.

If you are using the public healthcare system, you will have to check that the doctor you wish to register with is contracted into the scheme.

Obtaining medicine in Turkey

Pharmacies (eczane) are plentiful in Turkey - and are often open 24/7. Prescription medicine is cheap and often available over the counter.

Cultural differences in healthcare

In Turkey, it's expected that your friends or family will help with some of your needs (food, clean clothes, entertainment) when you are staying in hospital. This isn't the case in many countries, so it can catch some expats unawares.

Public/universal healthcare in Turkey

Turkey does have a universal healthcare system: the Genel Sağlık Sigortası system.

Public healthcare might not be up to the standards you're used to in Western Europe, for example - but it is of a reasonable quality, and staff are generally well trained. It is also rapidly improving: patient satisfaction in Turkey rose from 39.5% in 2003 to 75.9% in 2011 .

What does public healthcare in Turkey cover?

A few public hospitals offer dental work, but most Turks will pay for private dental treatment.

Some private hospitals will actually accept SGK insurance. You will still have to pay for procedures, but they will be heavily discounted.

Who is eligible for public healthcare in Turkey?

A foreigner must meet the following requirements:

There are exceptions for foreign students studying in Turkish universities - although they do still have to pay premiums (see below).

See the Turkish government website for the detailed regulations.

How do you register for public healthcare in Turkey?

Employers register their employees with the Social Security Institution (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu or SGK).

You can also register for SGK yourself. This can be done through a local SGK office.

Visit the local office and find out exactly what you need to do, as the process may be different depending on your circumstances.

To be a resident of Turkey, you need health insurance. If you are not already a resident of Turkey, this process might take a lot of back-and-forth as you apply for residency and health insurance at the same time! This is one of the reasons we recommend getting private health insurance as well as or instead of SGK.

In order to apply for SGK, you will need:

When you fill in an application form at the office, you will receive a Provizyon Sorgulama Cevap - a Provisional Enquiry Reply. This will ensure you are covered whilst your application is processed.

You will pay your first month's fee up front at this point.

How much does Turkish SGK insurance cost?

At the moment, 426.60 TL (US$117.70) per month in premiums (2017 - this changes yearly). Your employer will also contribute a percentage of your pre-tax earnings.

This cost is per houseshold, so it is the same for a single person as it is for a married couple.

Private healthcare in Turkey

Private healthcare in Turkey is of a very high standard, especially in Ankara and Istanbul.

A growing number of Turks are opting for private healthcare. This is because of the higher standard of care, less crowded hospitals and a shorter waiting time.

Expats almost always choose to go private. As well as receiving better standards of healthcare, you'll have better access to doctors who speak English and other languages.

Although very few native Turks have private health insurance - they often just pay out of pocket - we'd highly recommend that you get it.

The high quality of the care, and the relatively low prices of private procedures in Turkey, have led to a burgeoning 'health tourism' market, especially from countries with extremely expensive healthcare (like the US).

Expats' Tips

Tell us your experience and share your advice about Turkish healthcare: email office@guides.global.

Conclusion

There is a good reason that private healthcare is popular with foreigners in Turkey. Wait times are all but eliminated. Doctors are more likely to speak your language. You will have better access to cutting edge procedures.

However, healthcare under the universal SGK scheme is fast improving. Soon it may be improved to the point where it is an attractive option for expats in Turkey.

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
Universal Healthcare Insurance
Information from the Turkish government
Universal Healthcare Insurance
Ranking of hospitals in Turkey
The best hospitals in Turkey
Ranking of hospitals in Turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Francine Carrel

27 February 2017


 

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