Living Abroad

Healthcare in Turkey for Expats and Foreigners

Updated: 15 September 2021

Every year, thousands of patients from all over the world come to Turkey to get medical services. The success of the healthcare system has increased in recent years. It’s easy to find well-educated and English-speaking medical professionals in Turkey. 

A recent study published in The Lancet ranks Turkey’s healthcare system 60th among 195 countries in the world. The increasing number of medical schools and specialists in the country is a sign of this. If you’re planning to live in Turkey, it’s time that you become acquainted with the healthcare system in the country.

The Healthcare System In Turkey

Healthcare in Turkey consists of both public and private health services. The Ministry of Health (MOH), universities, and the private sector provide healthcare services.

Foreigners and expats living in Turkey can apply for health benefits in two ways;  Universal Health Insurance and private health insurance.

The European Health Insurance Card is not efficient in Turkey. Also, health insurance is compulsory in Turkey. Thus, you’ll need health insurance to get residency or work permits. 

Universal Health Insurance in Turkey 

Universal Health Insurance covers most health issues such as emergencies, pregnancy, and illnesses. Social Security Institution (SGK) administers general healthcare in Turkey.  To do so, you need to contact the nearest social security center. If you enroll in this scheme, you can also enjoy discounts in private hospitals. But, note that state hospitals are sometimes very crowded. 

How Can You Apply for Universal Health Insurance

If you’ve lived in Turkey for one year, you’re eligible to apply. You can access all the medical care with a monthly fee. The monthly premium for 2021 is about ₺850, and it changes every year. You can get updated information from the application centers for healthcare in Turkey for foreigners. There are approximately 600 social security centers in the country.  When you apply for SGK, your spouse and children under 18 can benefit from healthcare for foreigners.

Treatment services covered by SGK:

  • Inpatient and outpatient services.
  • Occupational accidents and diseases
  • Pregnancy, birth, and related expenses
  • Discounts in private hospitals and clinics, etc.
  • Infectious diseases
  • Preventive health services 
  • Treatment costs of foreigners and their dependents, except for chronic diseases

Private Health Insurance in Turkey 

You can get private health insurance in Turkey by paying a monthly fee to an insurance company. Private health insurance offers more benefits than SGK does. These are shorter waiting times, the highest quality of care, and fewer unexpected expenses. Also, it’s easy to find more English-speaking doctors in private hospitals. So, you may prefer a private healthcare option rather than SGK. 

Treatment services covered by private insurance:

  • Medical examination costs 
  • Costs for diagnostic examinations 
  • Medication costs 
  • Hospital services (operation, anesthesia, medication, laboratory, radiology, etc.)
  • Room, bed, meal, and accompanying expenses during hospitalization.
  • Corneal, kidney, pancreas, liver, heart, lung transplantation.
  • Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, dialysis 
  • Diagnostic biochemical, microbiological, pathological, radiological, and imaging tests during hospitalization.
  • Costs of artificial limbs in case of loss of limbs due to an accident or illness 
  • Postoperative physical therapy
  • Medical treatments for less than 24 hours (food poisoning, simple burn treatments)
  • Treatments in intensive care
  • Therapies related to teeth and nose caused by a traffic accident

These benefits may vary depending on the insurance agent. Be sure to get detailed information before choosing your healthcare plan.

Family Health Care Centers in Turkey

There are also family health care centers in every town or village. You only have to show your residency permit or passport to consult at these clinics for free.  Moreover, some doctors have their own practices. These doctors don’t work under an insurance company and have their fee schedule. 

On the other hand, private clinics also provide professional treatment. You cannot use any insurance in such private clinics. You can reach them online, or you can go to their clinic and get information.  

Costs of Healthcare in Turkey for Foreigners

Prices of healthcare in Turkey are much more affordable compared to European countries. Many patients prefer the country for specialist operations, fertility treatments, or hair transplants. Cosmetic surgery is also popular in healthcare Turkey applications. 

In general, the healthcare system in Turkey is getting better day by day. Medical tourism is also developing quite well. 

For example, dental care is also 50-70 percent cheaper than in the UK, Europe, and the US. If you choose SGK, you can get free dental treatment in government and university hospitals. Depending on your private insurance plan, the prices for dental treatment may vary.

Medication and Pharmacies in Turkey

Medication is also both cheaper and approachable. Unlike the US and European countries, only pharmacies provide medical services in Turkey. Insurance holders don’t need to pay a fee for several medicines. You can also find a pharmacy on every corner of the street. 

Pharmacies are also places where you can consult and help with medicines. By listening to your complaints, they can refer you to the doctor when necessary. 

Generally, pharmacies are open Monday through Saturday from 09:00 to 19:00. Most pharmacies close on Sundays, but you can always find a pharmacy on duty that is open 24 hours.

Getting an Appointment or in Case of Emergency

You can make an appointment by phoning 182. If you prefer a local family health care center, they are open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday. You don’t have to get an appointment, but you might need to wait for some time. 

Emergency treatment is free in Turkey, but private hospitals may charge for admissions. However, compared to other countries, you will probably find these fees cheaper. In severe accidents, you can call both public and private ambulances. Yet, public ambulance’s arrival can be slower. For any emergencies, you can call 112.

Alternative Medicine in Turkey

Lokman Physicians practices are the founders of alternative medicine in Turkey. Turkish people developed natural treatment methods by blending different plants and natural products. Some traditional medicine applications are cupping and homeopathy.

Only certified physicians can practice such treatments. For this reason, you should make sure that your doctor or clinic has a license. There are also high-quality spa centers all around the country with thermal springs.

Conclusion

Turkey is a popular country among expats who want to enjoy a quality life along with an efficient healthcare system. The country offers a citizenship by investment scheme for those who want to relocate there. For more information, please refer to our Turkey citizenship by investment guide.

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