Table of Contents
Healthcare in Turkey
What are the healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey? That’s one of the most important questions on people’s minds when considering moving or traveling to Turkey. You can’t put a price on health, and Turkey’s healthcare system is one of the most quality ones in the region.
Congratulations on your decision to relocate to Turkey. In this historic, culturally interesting nation, you’ll never run out of fresh discoveries – and the cuisine is delicious, too. Before you join the tens of thousands of ex-pats from across the world who have chosen to call Turkey their home, make sure you know what type of healthcare service you’ll have.
Turkey’s healthcare system has developed dramatically over the years, to the point that it is now the region’s top supplier of healthcare services. Every year, Turkey serves thousands of international patients from the Middle East and Europe as a specialized healthcare destination with outstanding technical advancements.
Turkey has continued to pursue medical supremacy and solid knowledge to provide the groundwork for providing high-quality patient care. The healthcare system in Turkey aspires to be a worldwide competitor with other healthcare providers, achieving quality not just regionally but internationally too.
Turkey’s healthcare system includes a combination of state and private services. In 2003, Turkey made universal healthcare a reality. It is known as Universal Health Insurance, or “Genel Saglik Sigortasi” in Turkish, and it’s supported by a 5% tax levy on all employers.
An Overview: Turkish Healthcare System
Unless you are above the age of 65, you are legally required to have some sort of health insurance in Turkey, whether public or private. In 2006, the Turkish government established “Genel Saglik Sigortasi” (GSS), a universal healthcare system that provides a range of medical treatments to all citizens and all children, regardless of their parents’ socio-economic position. You can obtain free treatment in the following conditions if you go to a public hospital after registering with GSS:
- Infectious diseases,
- Work-related accidents and illnesses,
- Medically necessary cosmetic surgery,
- Fertility treatment (if you’re younger than 39),
- Preventive healthcare services (e.g., drug and alcohol addiction),
- Extraordinary events (e.g., injuries from war or a natural disaster/s).
As you can see, it’s very beneficial to have healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey. Dental treatments are available in some public hospitals, but you’ll almost always have to resort to a private facility. If you utilize the GSS, you’ll also have to pay a portion of the cost of some prescription medicines and outpatient treatments. Only 2% of the population in Turkey has private healthcare insurance, yet out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for a substantial part of private spending. Don’t fall into that trap; rather, save money by getting healthcare insurance.
Healthcare in Turkey For Ex-pats
Unless your spouse has insurance, you won’t be allowed to utilize Turkey’s public healthcare system until you’ve resided in the nation for a year as a resident. Unless you are over 65, if you cannot obtain public insurance during this time, the law requires you to acquire private coverage.
Related Article: How to Get a Residence Permit in Turkey?
If you wish to start accessing public healthcare after a year of residing in Turkey as a resident, you can seek to register with the Social Security Institution (SGK). On the other hand, many ex-pats prefer to keep their private insurance coverage since it’s quite inexpensive and allows them to access the greatest healthcare facilities in Turkey.
Is medical treatment for ex-pats in Turkey adequate? In Turkey, medical treatment is excellent. Ex-pats have access to public and private healthcare, with private healthcare relatively inexpensive compared to Europe and the United States.
Ex-pats who have lived in Turkey for at least a year can join the Turkish State Health Cover, SGK (Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu in Turkish, Social Security Institution in English). SGK can help pay for some treatments at private hospitals and cover admissions at public hospitals.
Every town and village has a Family Healthcare Center, which functions similarly to a local doctor’s office. Consultations at these family health clinics, also known as “Saglik Ocagi” or “Aile Sagligi Merkezi” in Turkish, are free with the obtainment of a residence permit or passport in the case of visitors.
Furthermore, there are numerous reasonably priced private doctor surgeries or polyclinics (health centers with multiple specialists, similar to a mini-hospital). Given that English (or other languages) is widely spoken, these are frequently more targeted at foreigners and ex-pats.
Both visitors and locals can receive emergency care at state hospitals via ambulance and walk-in clinics, although admissions will be charged. Patients can be referred to the state hospital for specialized care by doctors at private clinics or public family health centers. Although the care is typical of a good level, these public hospitals can be hectic and intimidating to visitors who speak little English. Patients who need to remain overnight are usually required to bring their caregiver, and it’s also a good idea to bring your food. Emergency care is free for both visitors and locals; however, admissions are charged. SGK covers this in the case of residents.
Private hospitals, such as; Acibadem and the American Hospital, provide ambulance and walk-in emergency medical care for everybody, although they are charged and more costly than public hospitals. Tourists should ensure that their vacation insurance covers them, and locals with SGK should see what discounted prices are available for particular treatment options. Turkey’s private hospitals are of very high quality, with far cheaper rates than those in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. As a result, as you can see, healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey are great and well adequate.
Private Healthcare Insurance For Foreigners in Turkey
Private health insurance is necessary to obtain a residency permit in Turkey. Various insurance agencies operating in the nation provide private insurance. Each agency has its own set of circumstances, and these services may be subject to minor changes depending on the agency. So what are the benefits of private health insurance in Turkey?
- Shorter waiting times to get treatment,
- Peace of mind,
- You’ll receive the highest level of care possible,
- It should be extremely affordable for you,
- Fewer unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, which means being able to budget your healthcare in advance,
- Private physicians are more likely to speak English (or other languages),
- If you’re not a resident or a dependant spouse, you’re legally compelled to go private unless you’re over 65.
Which Private Insurance Agencies in Turkey Provide Healthcare Services?
Private insurance companies in Turkey operate on a monthly contribution payment basis. A person can use private insurance-provided healthcare in exchange for a contribution. The coverage of outpatient and inpatient therapy is assured under private healthcare insurance.
Individuals may be serviced at any healthcare facility with which the insurance company has a contract without having to pay a treatment charge or for a very modest price. If a healthcare institution doesn’t even have a contract with an insurance company, the client gets reimbursed for a portion of the insurance. To find out which your insurance covers hospitals, speak with a representative from your healthcare agency.
Is Healthcare Free in Turkey?
We’ll discuss it briefly here but for more detailed information on the topic, go to; “Is Healthcare in Turkey Free For Foreigners?”
Yes, to the degree that such a system is ever possible. The Turkish government subsidizes healthcare through taxes, which covers all of the circumstances and treatments mentioned above. If you have a job and are a resident, your employer may even cover your insurance premiums. Your insurance premiums will be assessed on a means-tested basis if you’re not working.
If your income is less than one-third of the gross minimum wage in Turkey, the government will pay your insurance premiums when divided by the number of individuals in your family. You’ll pay a sliding scale of premiums if your income is higher. In Turkey, children can use the public healthcare system for free and continue to do so until they reach 18.
There are still a few out-of-pocket costs, and you’ll have to pay a portion of the cost of prescription medications and outpatient treatments, for example, but taxes account for the vast majority of healthcare spending in Turkey. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI), the government funds 77.5 percent of healthcare spending, with the balance covered by the public, either via private insurance or out-of-pocket costs.
Medical Emergencies in Turkey
Of course, this may vary depending on the sort of emergency; nevertheless, always contact an ambulance in the event of a serious emergency or accident. If you are staying at a resort or a hotel, speak with the receptionist, or if you are unable to do so, phone for assistance. In other cases, call out for help, someone will call an ambulance for you.
The ambulance will take you to the nearest state hospital’s accident and emergency department. You will be seen right away, and there will be no charge for attending to an emergency. It will make no difference that you aren’t a Turkish citizen; you will be treated equally.
There will, of course, be costs if you attend a private hospital in Turkey. Fees will be less than half of what they are in private hospitals in the United Kingdom and most of the Eurozone. Compared to; Brazil, Russia, and India (all members of the BRICS), Turkey’s private healthcare expenses are still lower.
Remember: Turkish Pharmacies Are a Great Source of Medical, if in Need
Turkey features unique pharmacies known as; “Eczane” in Turkish, which may be found on nearly every street corner. The pharmacist is qualified to listen to your concerns, offer a diagnosis or suggestion, and prescribe treatment medicine.
However, keep in mind that it is not a substitute for a doctor’s diagnosis; if you want assistance, get expert assistance. They will refer you to a hospital if they feel you need to be seen there. The pharmacist can also provide you with over-the-counter medicines that would otherwise require a doctor’s prescription.
Healthcare For Foreigners in Turkey
The primary goal of this short information note is to outline the rules governing healthcare services and health insurance for foreigners in Turkey. This ministry organizes Turkey’s healthcare system into several programs and divisions, all of which are governed by various laws. The basic concept is stated in the Turkish Constitution Article 60, which states that everyone is entitled to social security and health benefits.
The Ministry of Health in Turkey is responsible for providing healthcare and ensuring that the organization can do so for all people, whether citizens or foreigners, regardless of race, language, religion, sex, political stance, philosophical belief, or economic social position. Please see the list below for useful health services for foreigners in Turkey.[13,14]
Foreign Tourists: Foreign visitors who aren’t insured by any insurance company established, particularly for the duration of their visit, could get free medical care in an emergency. Emergency healthcare services for all people are free, according to Prime Minister’s Circular No. 2010/16, regardless of whether private or public healthcare facilities provide them.[14,15]
Foreigners working in Turkey on a contract basis: Law No. 5510, issued May 31, 2006, titled Social Insurance, and Universal Health Insurance Law, which regulates social insurance, covering short and long-term insurance branches. The requirements of Article 4 of this law concerning people assumed to be insurance holders also apply to foreigners working on service contracts, except for nationals of countries with which international social security contracts are established based on the reciprocity principle. Employees who work in Turkey for a limited amount of time on behalf of non-resident businesses or under their name and account and are still covered by their home country’s social security laws are not considered insurance holders in Turkey. As a result, foreign employees hired under service contracts that do not include international social security are considered insurance holders. Their workers are responsible for paying their social security and healthcare premiums. Naturally, such ex-pats can access all healthcare services if a resident company’s payroll employs them.
Citizens of other countries who work in Turkey and have international social security contracts: Many nations have negotiated and completed international social security agreements with Turkey. These bilateral agreements specify the laws that apply to foreign nationals working in another country and equal treatment for nationals and employees from the sending country. These contracts promote issues such as; the preservation of acquired rights and consolidations throughout the length of the insured services. As a result, if a foreign national of a bilateral contract party state with Turkey comes to Turkey to work for a Turkish resident company, they will be qualified for social security and healthcare benefits in Turkey, as well as social security continuity in their home state, subject to mutual recognition.
Universal Health Insurance is available to foreigners with a valid residency permit in Turkey: The term “universal health insurance” refers to a policy that assures that people’s healthcare status is maintained and that expenditures incurred when they are exposed to health hazards are covered. Article 60 of the Social Insurance and Universal Health Insurance Law lists those regarded as universal health insurance holders. Individuals from foreign nations who have a residence permit in Turkey and are not insurance holders under the legislation of a foreign country are regarded as holders of universal health insurance, provided the principle of reciprocity is taken into account. In this situation, a foreigner who has lived in Turkey for more than one year might seek to participate in such universal health insurance in exchange for paying an insurance premium.
Healthcare Services For Foreigners in Turkey
Quality of Healthcare in Turkey vs. The World
We’ve talked about healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey in detail, now let’s talk about how it ranks globally.
Turkey’s healthcare system has vastly improved during the last two decades. It does, however, have a lot of potential for development. Turkey’s healthcare was ranked 60th in the world in a 2018 research published in The Lancet and financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This ranked the Transcontinental country 37 places lower than the United Kingdom and lower than relatively impoverished nations such as; Macedonia, Lithuania, and Bermuda. Turkey still has a long way to go in many areas, such as; increasing the number of doctors in the nation. According to the World Bank, 18 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants are lower than adjacent Cyprus or war-torn Libya.
According to Eurostat, 6.9% of individuals over the age of 15 in Turkey have unmet health requirements, a fifth more than the UK’s 5.8%. According to the World Bank, Turkey spends only 4.22 percent of its GDP on healthcare, which explains a major part of the quality gap. This is far lower than the United Kingdom’s 9.63 percent and even lower than poor nations such as; Yemen, Zambia, and Chad.[2,7,8]
Government expenditure accounts for three-quarters of that total, with the remainder coming from the general public – and public expenditure is on the rise, with the TSI reporting a 19.4% increase in 2018. However, according to the World Bank, out-of-pocket spending is still not outrageously high, hovering at 17.38 percent. This is slightly greater than the United Kingdom and far lower than several countries with larger GDPs, such as; Australia, China, and Italy.[8,9]
Turkey also boasts an excellent 2.81 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants. It outnumbers the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand. According to the TSI, individuals spend an average of 2,030₺ (194€) on healthcare each year, which employed ex-pats should afford.[9,10]
According to the Ministry of Health, this might explain why service quality is at 90% – though take that statistic with a grain of salt. According to Statista, 57 percent of Turks feel they are in excellent health, which is a more accurate representation of the condition of the Turkish healthcare system.[11,12] All in all, it is safe to say that healthcare services in Turkey are excellent, and healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey are adequate.
Frequently Asked Questions: Healthcare in Turkey (F.A.Q.)
How do I get a doctor’s appointment in Turkey? All of the above locations are accessible by foot, or you may look up a phone number to arrange a doctor’s appointment in Turkey online. Appointments for state hospitals can be made by dialing 182, going to the official government website “Randevu,” or downloading the “MHRS” app for mobile devices. Local family centers often cater to walk-ins and are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
How do I get to see a doctor in Turkey? Either by a recommendation from one of the above-mentioned private or public doctor’s offices or clinics or by visiting one of the public or private hospitals.
How do medicine prescriptions work in Turkey? Residents above the age of 18 who are listed with SGK will only be responsible for 10 to 20% of the cost of some prescription medications. Some private health insurance policies will only cover a portion of prescription medications, while others may pay the entire cost. Ex-pats who register with SGK will discover a new digital system that connects doctor’s prescriptions to both residents’ and ex-pats’ Turkish citizenship ID numbers.
Is medication cheap in Turkey? Medication for most common drugs looks less expensive than in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. Less common drugs imported from outside, on the other hand, might be costly, but their SGK or private healthcare insurance may cover ex-pats.
We have covered the most basics of healthcare services for foreigners in Turkey; we hope this article may shed some light on your questions.
References & Sources
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021f, June 7). Health care in Turkey. Wikipedia. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Turkey>
- Jackman, J. (2021, May 25). Healthcare for Expats in Turkey | How Does it Work? MoveHub. <https://www.movehub.com/uk/moving-abroad/turkey/healthcare-for-expats/>
- A. (2021, March 2). Health Services Specific to Foreigners and their Details. Expat Guide Turkey. <https://expatguideturkey.com/health-services-specific-to-foreigners-and-their-details/>
- Deggin, C. (2020, April 15). Healthcare and medical in Turkey. Property Turkey. <https://www.propertyturkey.com/buyer-guide/healthcare-and-medical-in-Turkey>
- GBD 2016 Healthcare Access and Quality Collaborators. Measuring performance on the Healthcare Access and Quality Index for 195 countries and territories and selected subnational locations: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet. 2018 Jun 2;391(10136):2236-2271. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30994-2. Epub 2018 Jun 1. PMID: 29893224; PMCID: PMC5986687.
- Physicians (per 1,000 people) | Data. THE WORLD BANK. Retrieved June 27, 2021, from: <https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.PHYS.ZS>
- Unmet health care needs statistics – Statistics Explained. Eurostat. Retrieved June 27, 2021, from: <https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Unmet_health_care_needs_statistics>
- Current health expenditure (% of GDP) | Data. THE WORLD BANK. Retrieved June 27, 2021, from: <https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.CHEX.GD.ZS>
- Anadolu Agency. (2019, December 19). Turkey’s health expenditures see a 17.5% rise in 2018, reaching $28.5 billion. Daily Sabah. <https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/2019/11/12/turkeys-health-expenditures-see-175-rise-in-2018-reaching-285-billion>
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021g, June 11). List of countries by hospital beds. Wikipedia. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_hospital_beds>
- Sabah, D. (2018, September 26). Patient satisfaction rate in Turkish public hospitals hits a new high. Daily Sabah. <https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/2018/09/26/patient-satisfaction-rate-in-turkish-public-hospitals-hits-new-high>
- Stewart, C. (2021, June 10). Health care in Turkey – Statistics and Facts. Statista. <https://www.statista.com/topics/4782/health-care-in-turkey/>
- CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY. The Turkish Government. <https://global.tbmm.gov.tr/docs/constitution_en.pdf>
- Health-Care Servıces For Foreıgners In Turkey. ADMD LAW. Retrieved June 27, 2021, from: <http://www.admdlaw.com/health-care-services-for-foreigners-in-turkey/#.YNdm9-gzaUk>
- Kaynarca, F. (2019, February 22). The Turkish health care system for ex-pats. Daily Sabah. <https://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2019/02/23/the-turkish-health-care-system-for-expats>
- Turkish Government. (2006-05-31). Social Insurance and General Health Insurance Act No. 5510 of 31 May 2006. International Labour Organization. <https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=74711>
This article was published on 27.06.2021 and last edited on 07.09.2021. Images used in this article have been taken from free image-sharing services on the internet. Also, in this article, which is called; “Healthcare Services For Foreigners in Turkey,” information freely shared on the internet was used, and necessary references were given in the article. We make every effort to provide accurate information. However, feel free to contact us if you find any errors in this article.