Regarding healthcare in Turkey for foreign expats, residence permit holders have three options. Firstly, know that Turkey's reputation for medical care boosted international fame over the years. We have all heard stories of foreigners arriving for medical tourism like dental work, hair transplants and cosmetic surgery. But professionalism and expert advice are also seen in regular everyday services like admissions and outpatient work.
It is easy to find foreign healthcare professionals that speak your language, and if you cannot, translators will help. However, before we start talking about options for foreign expats who live in Turkey all year round, know that tourists staying 90 days or less should still buy healthcare insurance. In the event of something drastic happening, bills can run into thousands of pounds. So, let us look at healthcare options for foreign expats.
Healthcare in Turkey for Foreign Expats
1: No Healthcare Coverage
The government in Turkey doesn't require foreigners over 65 who live here to have healthcare coverage. So some expats go down this route and pay for all medical treatment as they go. However, terminal diseases or significant operations can drastically decrease any savings or burden family members. Additionally, they only pay as and when pensions come in, delaying treatment.
2: SGK Government Healthcare
All expats under 65 must have healthcare coverage. Most expats, regardless of their age, choose Turkey's government-run SGK system. The cost increases every year, and single applicants pay the same amount as couples, simply because Turkey's healthcare system is based on the family structure rather than single citizenship.
Even though this is a government-run scheme, foreign expats who opt into it enjoy discounted prices at private hospitals. Treatments covered include outpatient and inpatient services, pregnancy and birth, infectious diseases, accidents, and preventive health services. Foreign SGK holders also receive discounts for prescribed medicines. Any foreign expat can apply for SGK if they have lived in Turkey on a residency permit for one year.
3: Private Insurance
The other option is private health insurance in Turkey. This bypasses treatment at state hospitals and goes to the private sector. However, check the terms and conditions of all policies to know what they cover and stipulations that guarantee a pay-out. Also, be aware that some insurance companies ask you to pay costs first and then reimburse. Some people prefer private insurance because private facilities in Turkey typically offer same-day appointments and English-speaking doctors.
Need to Know: In Turkey, when loved ones need to stay overnight or longer in hospital, families come in, to wash, dress and feed the patient. If the person has no family or friends willing to carry this out, there are private nurses, but they charge. The SGK insurance policy does not cover this, and you need to check personal health insurance policies to see if they do.
4: Seeing the Doctor
There are two choices to see a doctor. Once again, private clinics charge, including for prescriptions, appointments, and treatment. Most expats, however, register at family health clinics, where they access services for free.
5: About Pharmacies and Calling an Ambulance
Pharmacies are called "eczane" in Turkey and are spotted by their red cross symbols. Most open from 9. am till 7 p.m. and close at weekends. However, there are always emergency pharmacies that open. These differ every week. Google displays current emergency pharmacies for the whole of Turkey. Just search for nobetci eczane and where you live. Alternatively, all closed pharmacies display contact details and address for open pharmacies on their windows. Call 112 for an ambulance; however, if you do not speak Turkish, call a Turkish friend to come and help if the ambulance staff do not speak English.
6: Thermal Treatment
Turkey is a significant destination for thermal medical tourism. Every year, international tourists head to places like Izmir and Bursa, which are well known for their natural thermal pools. Warm spring waters of these pools alleviate symptoms of conditions like arthritis, blood pressure and skin diseases. Unfortunately, government and private health insurance policies do not cover these treatments, but affordable hotels online do.
Also About Turkey
Residency Permits: Foreign expats need a residency permit to live in Turkey for longer than 90 days. At one time, the process was tiresome and took so much time. However, these days, the online system ensures applicants get residency permits in next to no time. This article discusses what to know and how to become a resident, to access healthcare in Turkey.
Living in Turkey: Healthcare isn't the only thing to consider when living in Turkey. Other aspects include banking, money management, learning Turkish, keeping in touch with families and friends back home, and adapting to cultural changes. Since we believe that forward preparation and knowledge make a smooth transition, in this article, we list our tips and advice on becoming an expat in Turkey.
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