Healthcare is an important topic for expats in Turkey, no one Countries healthcare service is quite the same. However despite healthcare’s importance few people research it thoroughly before moving to another Country.
So what is the Turkish healthcare systems like? Do you need health insurance? And if so who are the providers? These are just two of the most common questions.
Let’s take a look at the Turkish Healthcare system in detail.
The Turkish Healthcare System
The Turkish healthcare system is quite complex, hospitals are generally quite modern and medical staff are well trained. However don’t expect the staff to be able to speak English, while some might this isn’t a guarantee.
People in towns and cities will in general have better access to medical treatment, while people in rural communities may find accessing medical treatment more difficult or time consuming.
All health care and related social welfare activities are coordinated by the Ministry of Health. Like most if not all other countries you will find a higher standard of care in a private hospital, than in a state run one. In a private hospital it’s more likely you’ll have an English speaking doctor and the hospital will usually be more modern and better equipped.
Do I Need Health Insurance ?
You don’t actually have to have health insurance to stay in Turkey, for example if you’re staying in Turkey on a tourist visa you won’t need to get health insurance. (!) - travel insurance is advised. However health insurance is compulsory if you want a Turkish residence permit.
If you’re over 65 years old then you won’t need health insurance to get a residence permit, but it’s strongly advised that you get health insurance.
Health insurance is compulsory in Turkey for people aged less than 65 who want to apply for a residence permit in Turkey. There are different options available for your health insurance, the paid government health insurance system and private insurance. If your country has reciprocal agreement you can benefit from SGK. (UK & USA currently don’t) Some international insurance companies will offer health insurance for expats so they can provide cover for any medical needs you may have or that may arise, however international cover can’t be used if you’re applying for a residence permit.
Therefore it’s not uncommon to find people who have opted for a basic insurance cover to comply with the rules for a residence permit, while still having insurance for themselves with another insurer.
The government health insurance is called SGK (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu) which covers all your family and is paid monthly. However conditions do apply for example if you’re not married then you’ll have to get separate policies, so check fully to make sure it meets your requirements.
In order to apply for SGK insurance you’ll need to make an application at your local SGK office, you’ll also need to attend a medical check-up and have held a permit for at least one year.
You’ll also need to meet the following requirements: you’ll need a Turkish residence permit, be living in Turkey on a permanent basis, a passport and a yabanci kimlik number. More about SGK can be found here.
Private Health Care
The other option for health insurance is to go private, there’s a number of private health insurance companies in Turkey. Many of the larger European insurance companies also operate in Turkey.
In general if you do choose to go private you can expect to receive a higher standard of care. Some insurers will also have packages designed specifically for foreigners such as Groupama Sigorta who have developed the FIT (Foreigners in Turkey) policy.
Click to learn more here
Dentists in Turkey offer a range of services at a much cheaper price that those in the UK. And the cheaper prices have nothing to do with the quality of the work, the prices are cheaper simply because the running costs for a dental clinic in Turkey are much cheaper than their UK/USA equivalents.
Some private insurers may cover emergency dental work or treatments. However in most cases dentists will be paid per appointment or service. More about Dentist treatment in Turkey can be found here.
Prescriptions and Pharmacies
Pharmacies are quite easy to locate all around Turkey, and they work in a similar manner to UK and US pharmacies. The pharmacists are allowed to diagnose minor illnesses or aliments, provide over the counter medicines and medicines on prescription.
Pharmacies work various hours, and there is no set standard time so you should be sure to take a note of their operating hours. Although there will usually be one pharmacy in an area that is open 24 hours a day.
Patients under the SGK healthcare system will have to pay between 10 – 20 percent of certain prescribed medicines total cost. If you’re under 18, suffering from a chronic illness or disability or are on a low-income then these costs are waived.
Private healthcare customers costs will vary considerable some health insurances may cover the whole cost of medications, cover a percentage of the cost or not cover the cost at all.
Written by David Varty - YellAli Content Team
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