How medical care works in Turkey: appointment with a doctor, private clinics and insurance



How medical care works in Turkey: appointment with a doctor, private clinics and insurance

Turkey has a comprehensive public health care system available to foreign residents who pay social security contributions. However, the system is underfunded and many hospitals are overcrowded. Many doctors working in the public health system also work in the private sector, where waiting lists can be shorter.

All Turkish residents are assigned a Turkish Identification Number (TIN), which is also a social security number (Sosyal Güvenlik Numarasi - SGN). Employers apply for a social security number at the Population Register Office of the Ministry of Interior for their foreign employees who do not have a TIN.

There are many faculties in Turkey that provide good medical education, especially in university hospitals. However, according to experts, the recent change of universities has affected medical education and it may become difficult to find good doctors in Turkey in the future for various reasons, such as more students than necessary, a shortage of teachers, and lower standards for faculty selection.

Read more about obtaining Turkish citizenship through investment here.

Learn more about medical tourism in Turkey and its popularity here.

Universal medical insurance in Turkey

Turkey currently has a universal health insurance system (Genel Sağlık Sigortası) (since February 2012). Most foreigners holding a residence permit and permanently residing in Turkey for at least one year, who do not have health insurance in accordance with the legislation of their country of origin, are required to make mandatory monthly payments into this scheme. 

For some foreigners the scheme is voluntary, but citizens of other countries must contribute or pay a fine. For most foreigners, it entitles them to unlimited health care for about 200 TL per month. Payments under the scheme are made monthly to the bank.

Covered Procedures.

Residents registered with the social security system can receive medical care free of charge at contracted hospitals. In the following cases, medical care is provided without conditions:

  • Emergencies.
  • Occupational accidents and occupational diseases.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Preventive health care services (drug and alcohol abuse).
  • Birth.
  • Emergency events (war, fire, earthquake).

The following treatments are not covered by social security in Turkey:

  • Infertility treatment for women over the age of 39.
  • Cosmetic surgery, except when medically necessary.
  • Cosmetic dental treatment.
  • Dental services.

Most Social Security hospitals do not provide dental care. Patients go to private dentists and pay for services themselves.

Private healthcare

The private healthcare sector in Turkey is growing rapidly, and many expatriates prefer to use private insurance because waiting lists are shorter and the standard of care in private hospitals tends to be higher. 

Most banks and insurance companies offer various retirement and health insurance packages in Turkey. Insurance companies provide a list of hospitals and doctors whose treatment is covered by their insured.

Fortunately, Turkey has a well-developed healthcare system with state-of-the-art facilities and highly trained staff, as well as a good insurance system.

In fact, there are so many healthcare options that your first task as an expat will be to choose the right health insurance policy for your needs.

Is health insurance so important in Turkey

Expatriates are required to have health insurance, which will be required when obtaining a residence or work permit.

In addition, if you work for a Turkish company, your employer will include you in the national social security system (Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu, SGK), a contribution-based insurance system open to all residents.

The SGK provides you with free inpatient and outpatient medical treatment in all public institutions and a discount in private institutions, although you will have to pay an additional fee.

It covers the risks of illness, maternity, work-related accidents, occupational diseases, and disability. In addition, you receive most medicines at reduced prices from local pharmacies if they are prescribed by a public hospital physician.

Even without an employment contract, you can join the SGK if you pay a monthly fee of 614 Turkish Liras and have a residence permit.

Good to know:

Cosmetic surgery is not covered by the SGK. Also, there is very limited (if any) dental care in the public system, and you will probably have to go to private dentists.

Alternatively, you can take out a private insurance policy, either locally or internationally. Many expats have made this choice, not least because private facilities tend to have more English-speaking staff than the public system. Insurance premiums depend on your age, nationality, and health status, as well as the quality of the coverage you choose.

Health Care Institutions in Turkey

Public hospitals and private clinics form a network that covers the entire country. They will all give you access to both general and specialized care (pediatrics, gastroenterology, neurology, psychology, etc.). A standard appointment, without X-rays and special examinations, usually costs 200 to 300 Turkish Liras.

As in Europe, some medications require a prescription. However, the nature of regulated treatment can be surprisingly different from international standards, especially with regard to contraception.

In urban areas, you can easily find pharmacies (eczane), including duty pharmacies (nöbetçi eczane), which are open at night.

Everyone can easily get to hospitals in Turkey and get the necessary medical services of the highest quality. Public hospitals and medical centers are responsible for hospitalizing patients through an extensive network of ambulances and specialized ambulance crews that reach the remotest points in cities and rural areas around the clock. They also provide transportation services for the elderly and chronically ill, as well as the disabled.

Private and public hospitals are required to provide medical services for emergencies and admit patients.

Pregnancy in Turkey

Women and wives of SGK members are entitled to pregnancy benefits covering all examinations and care in the public system. Pregnant women are also entitled to a 4-month maternity leave, and after giving birth, a breastfeeding allowance of 202 lire and a 90-minute breastfeeding break per day.

Qualified gynecologists and midwives, some of whom encourage natural childbirth, can be found in both the public and private sectors.

Emergency and ambulance number: 112

Online appointment

Turkey's health sector has a unique appointment system in which patients can make an online appointment at any hospital, depending on availability. In addition, there has been a significant decrease in infant mortality in Turkey due to the development of the health sector.

Turkish hospitals and health facilities are striving to provide high-quality medical services through advanced medical technology and qualified doctors of various specialties. Similarly, the government is also working to increase the number of hospitals and the number of beds in all hospitals in Turkey.

Turkish hospitals and medical centers have all the necessary systems, X-ray and testing equipment, laboratories, and modern medical equipment. As a result, patients can have surgery in the hospital without having to travel anywhere.

Medical care in Turkey

Providing free medical care for the elderly during the day at special centers. This care is not limited to the treatment of illnesses, but also comprehensive medical care and the provision of food and medicines.

The scheme is run by SOSYAL GUVENLIK KURUMU BASKANLIGI (SGK) and has local branches, regional medical offices, and medical facilities that coordinate the medical facilities.

The SGK is a financially autonomous public body responsible for collecting premiums, managing risks, and providing benefits, under the supervision of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Universal health insurance provides all necessary medical services:

  • children under the age of 18,
  • students between the ages of 20 and 25, and for 2 years after graduation,
  • insured volunteers,
  • retirees,
  • the unemployed,
  • recipients of social assistance.

The scheme finances the following activities:

  • Outpatient and inpatient medical care in case of illness, accident at work, illness or maternity,
  • oral health services and orthodontic treatment for children under 18 years of age,
  • medical methods of assisted reproduction,
  • preventive medical care related to substance abuse,
  • blood and blood products, bone marrow, vaccines, prosthetic
  • drugs.

If hospitalized, the insured may go to a facility of his or her choice; treatment and hospital fees are fully covered. Exceptional payment may be required in private hospitals or hospitals belonging to university foundations.

The temporary disability benefit is paid from the third day of absence from work until recovery or disability occurs, provided that the person concerned has paid sickness insurance premiums for at least 90 days in the year preceding the beginning of the absence.

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