The Best Health Insurance for Expats in Turkey
Turkey is a popular destination for expats due to its history, hospitality, and affordability. The government requires anyone applying for a visa to have medical insurance that will cover them during their stay. If you are thinking about moving there, you should familiarize yourself with their healthcare system.
In 2002, the Turkish government began a complete overhaul of its healthcare system. Prior to this, less than two-thirds of the population had health insurance. The system was very inefficient and offered unequal access to primary care. The Health Transformation Program (HTP), supported by the World Bank, aimed to upgrade the system and provide universal access and coverage to all residents. The HTP achieved all health-related Millennium Development Goals ahead of the 2015 deadline and is often cited as a success story for other countries.
Hospitals and clinics offering high-quality care are now available throughout Turkey. The country has 35 public and private facilities accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), a United States-based nonprofit organization that monitors quality and safety in medical care. However, there is a disparity between the services and amenities in public and private hospitals, especially in more rural areas. For shorter wait times and access to doctors who speak English, we recommend that foreigners purchase private health insurance in Turkey.
Turkey’s Health Insurance Options for Expats
Turkey has provided universal health insurance through their Social Security Institution (SGK) since 2003. After one year of residency, immigrants can apply for public health insurance through their nearest SGK office. Foreigners must show proof they are not insured or entitled to benefits from their home country as part of the application process. Additionally, you need to contribute to the SGK for at least 30 days before requesting care.
- Premium Benefits, Coverage and Service
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- For Foreigners in the US or US citizens abroad
While the Turkish healthcare system has improved, care can be limited in some regions. In public hospitals, especially in rural locations, you may not find the basic amenities you’d expect to find in a hospital. While the doctors are well-trained, it’s common to find out-of-date or poorly maintained equipment. Overcrowding is also a constant issue that causes long wait times for services.
To combat this, residents in Turkey frequently choose to purchase complementary health insurance plans so they can access the private healthcare system. The SGK often makes contracts with private hospitals to receive discounted care for residents, although they are still expected to pay some out-of-pocket expenses. Complementary insurance is used to cover most of these additional expenses. You can buy plans through licensed brokers, banks, or directly from insurance companies. However, these plans are often limited to local networks.
In order to ensure more extensive coverage, many immigrants opt to purchase international health insurance plans. Global private health plans cover you around the world and give you access to high-quality private hospitals with shorter waiting times. You will also find that more healthcare workers speak English in private hospitals than the SGK facilities.
The Cost of Health Insurance in Turkey for Foreigners
The public healthcare system in Turkey is funded by workers, employers, and the Turkish government. Foreigners who are employed in Turkey pay monthly fees based on their earnings. These fees are split with their employer, with employees paying 5% and employers paying 7.5%. Foreigners who are not working in Turkey and choose to opt into the universal health insurance plan, pay a rate of 24% of the national gross minimum wage.
Many procedures, such as emergency care, preventative health services and childbirth are completely covered by the SGK. However, patients pay about 20% of the costs of medications out-of-pocket. Retirees pay a reduced rate of 10% of the medication costs.
For more extensive coverage, most expats prefer to buy international health insurance plans. These plans can be tailored to your individual needs and range from $50 USD for the bare minimum to $1,000 USD for robust coverage worldwide.
Can an American Get Health Insurance in Turkey?
Yes, Americans can get health insurance in Turkey. They are eligible to apply for the public scheme after one year in the country. Before that, Americans will have to purchase private insurance to cover them until they are eligible for the public scheme. They can buy private insurance from both local and global providers. Many buy international plans to ensure coverage from the moment they depart. Even when enrolled in the public system, most choose to continue to use their private health insurance in Turkey as the public benefits don’t offer full coverage in private hospitals.
- Five plan options and additional optional benefits to include
- Choice of the coverage area to reflect your geographical area of need
- Freedom to choose your health care provider wherever you are in the world
Best Health Insurance in Turkey for Non-Residents
It should be noted that the European Health Insurance Card is not accepted in any of the country’s healthcare facilities. For people outside the United States traveling to Turkey, we recommend the GeoBlue Voyager Travel Insurance plan.
Plans for Students at Turkey Colleges and Universities
Foreign students who have been awarded a Turkish State scholarship are automatically covered under Turkey’s public healthcare system. Those without a scholarship are able to apply for the public scheme if they do so within three months of registering at their selected school.
To access private hospitals with English-speaking doctors, GeoBlue Navigator offers an excellent plan designed specifically for international students.
- Provides Medical, Dental, Evacuation and other Benefits
- Keep your coverage when your studies last multiple years
- Medical providers are available in over 130 countries worldwide
Travel Insurance for Short-Term Visitors to Turkey
If you are visiting Turkey for a shorter time, you may find that travel insurance is more appropriate for your needs. There are different kinds of travel insurance with different benefits. Most travel insurance covers urgent medical treatment as well as repatriation or evacuation needs. Our Travel Insurance and Safety Advice for Turkey page can help you decide which plan is best for you.
See Also: Travel Insurance for Visitors to Turkey
Group Medical Insurance in Turkey for International Employees
Global group medical insurance for international employees, volunteers, remote teams, and expatriates.
- Offering group plans for international health, life and travel
- Request a quote from the leading insurers around the globe
- A licensed agent will provide quotes and expert advice
Global Medical Care in Turkey
Turkey’s healthcare system includes private and public services. In 2018, the Lancet Academic Journal ranked the Turkish healthcare system at 60th out of 195 countries. Public services are provided by the Ministry of Health. People who pay into social security can get free treatment at public hospitals and clinics. Many international residents find that the public system does not provide the standard of care they are accustomed to and choose to purchase private insurance to meet their needs.
The private healthcare system in Turkey is thriving. Many residents prefer to use the private system and simply pay out-of-pocket. The country is a growing leader in medical tourism due to the high quality and affordability of care. Plastic surgery, dental work and fertility treatments are some of the most common treatments. Turkish Airlines even offers discounts to passengers traveling for medical treatment. However, unless you’re traveling to Turkey just for a particular medical procedure, it’s still vitally important that you be covered in case of emergencies, illness and routine medical care. Global insurance plans can help keep you and your family protected while living in Turkey.
How to Find a Family Physician or GP in Turkey
If using the public system, residents must first register at their local SGK office. Once you’re registered in the public system, you can select a licensed doctor to serve as your primary care physician. With the private system, ask your provider for a list of facilities that accept their insurance.
How to Get Hospital Care in Turkey
The healthcare system in Turkey allows you to make appointments online directly from hospital websites, subject to availability. Due to the disparity of amenities between rural and urban centers, it is advisable to seek treatment in larger cities. If using private insurance, your provider can provide you with a list of hospitals they work with.
In the case of an emergency, services can be reached by dialing 112. Both private and public hospitals have emergency departments available 24 hours a day. Emergency care is provided for all individuals in Turkey free of charge, though private hospitals may charge an admission fee.
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- Access to Cigna Global’s trusted network of hospitals and doctors
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service