Health care in Turkey

Health care in Turkey consists of a mix of public and private health services. Turkey has universal health care under its Universal Health Insurance (Genel Sağlık Sigortası) system. Under this system, all residents registered with the Social Security Institution (SGK) can receive medical treatment free of charge in hospitals contracted to the SGK.

Health care in Turkey used to be dominated by a centralised state system run by the Ministry of Health. In 2003, the government introduced a sweeping health reform programme aimed at increasing the ratio of private to state health provision and making healthcare available to a larger share of the population. Turkish Statistical Institute announced that 76.3 billion TL was spent for healthcare in 2012; 79.6 percent of which was covered by the Social Security Institution and 15.4 percent of which was paid directly by the patients. In 2012, there were 29,960 medical institutions in Turkey, and on average one doctor per 583 people and 2.65 beds per 1000 people.

In 2015, life expectancy was 72.6 years for men and 78.9 for women, with an overall average of 75.8

Public healthcare in Turkey

Public healthcare in Turkey is not up to the standards that expats from Europe and North America are familiar with. Nevertheless, with rising competition from private hospitals, there has been an increase in the quality of public institutions in recent years. However, most expats still choose to go to a private medical facility.


Private healthcare in Turkey

Private hospitals in Turkey are relatively cheap and offer good quality care. In fact, Turkey is beginning to make a name for itself as a medical tourism destination, particularly in the areas of cosmetic surgery, dentistry and fertility treatment. It’s normally easy to make an appointment at a private hospital as many of them have English speaking call centres.


Medicines and pharmacies in Turkey

Pharmacies (eczane) are plentiful in the main towns and cities. Expats living in Turkey will find that accessing medicines at pharmacies is relatively easy as many prescription medications are available cheaply and over the counter. Most neighbourhoods in major cities have a duty pharmacy that is generally open 24 hours a day.


Health insurance in Turkey

It’s compulsory for all residents who are under 65 and living in Turkey to have either public or private health insurance. 

Expats who have been a resident in Turkey for more than a year with a valid residence permit are able to apply to Turkey’s public health insurance scheme, which is administered by the state-run Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK). Many employers contribute to public health insurance on their employee’s behalf. Despite this, many expats opt for additional private medical insurance to supplement their public insurance and to cover medical care at private institutions. It’s worth noting that the European Health Insurance Card, relating to free medical treatment in EU countries, is not valid in Turkey. 

There are a number of international companies offering private expat health insurance, and local Turkish companies also offer competitive rates and services. International health insurance can cost thousands of US dollars per year, depending on one’s policy and benefits, but local Turkish health insurance is equally effective and far cheaper. 


Health hazards in Turkey

Expats should only drink bottled water. Malaria is present in the southeastern regions of Turkey, and prophylaxis is necessary if travelling to the affected areas. May to October is the highest risk period.


Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Turkey

There are no specific vaccinations required for entry into Turkey, although those coming from a yellow fever infected area should have a yellow fever certificate.

It’s also recommended to have a rabies injection, especially if travelling outside of the main urban areas, as Turkey has one of the highest incidents of rabies in Europe.


Emergency services in Turkey

Turkey has a public ambulance service, which can be contacted by dialling 112, but operators may not be able to understand English.

Some hospitals in the major cities offer private ambulance services which can be accessed directly. These are often better equipped and have faster response times than public ambulances. 

Health and Insurance

Turkey has a well-established healthcare sector with a large number of Turkish doctors and dentists who speak English, particularly in the major hospitals. All hospitals have an emergency room that is open 24 hours a day, physicians and pharmacies are on call 24 hours, 7 days a week.

All universities in Turkey have a free medical service at their medical centres. It offers advice on emergency treatment and consultations on personal and health matters. There is always at least one medical doctor and one nurse working during the week at the health centres of university campuses. However, international students are strongly advised to come to Turkey with a valid health insurance policy. International students are responsible for costs of hospitalization or for any medical service or treatment not available at university health centres. The Health Insurance Policy should cover both Asiatic and European Turkey. Some of the international insurance services are as follows:

     •  AXA PPP Healthcare : www.axappphealthcare.co.uk
     •  BUPA : www.bupa-intl.com
     •  ExpaCare Insurance Services : www.expacare.net

All students holding a Turkish Residency Permit of more than 6 months will automatically be registered at the Turkish Social Security Institution through the centralized system. At a national level however, the Turkish Government requires that all international students get a mandatory local health insurance policy with the Turkish Social Security Institution (SGK) to enable them to benefit health insurance while in Turkey. Students are responsible for their own monthly payments of health insurance contributions. 

The insurance will be valid until the end of the academic year. In order to activate the medical insurance, students should go the local health authority with:

     •  Resident Permit
     •  Passport
     •  Student ID

Students usually receive an SGK number upon the registration at the health authority.

Medical insurance allows you to buy your medicine by paying 20% of the total amount prescribed by the doctor. There are many state and private hospitals in Turkey. The cost that you are going to pay depends on the pricing policy of each hospital. Some of the hospitals wok under complete agreements with SGK insurance and some of them require extra costs which are not covered by the SGK insurance.

The International Office of the schools you attend can help you in setting up the process.

Besides, private policies can be bought from banks or from specialised insurance offices. You may arrange your private health insurance through the following insurance companies. The main insurance companies have branches in all the big towns.

     •  Ak Sigorta : www.aksigorta.com.tr
     •  Anadolu Sigorta : www.anadolusigorta.com.tr
     •  Axaoyak : www.axaoyak.com.tr
     •  Basak Sigorta : www.basak.com.tr
     •  Finans Sigorta : www.finanssigorta.com.tr
     •  Gunes Sigorta : www.gunessigorta.com.tr
     •  Ihlas Sigorta : www.ihlassigorta.com.tr
     •  Isvicre Sigorta : www.isvicre-sigorta.com.tr
     •  Yapi Kredi Sigorta : www.yksigorta.com.tr