How is health insurance organized in Turkey?

health insurance turkey

Choosing the right health insurance is an important step, and not just in Turkey. Unlike some other countries, the services offered free of charge by public hospitals in Turkey are not comprehensive, and when they are, satisfaction is often not there.

As an expat in Turkey, the first thing to do is decide whether you want to be treated in a private or public hospital. Of course, each of these options leads to differences in quality and doctors. However, it also depends on where you live and your health as some facilities are better equipped than others to treat certain illnesses. For example, some public hospitals are the best when it comes to x-ray services

Public and private health insurance in Turkey

As an expat in Turkey, you are eligible for public insurance made available to you by the Turkish government. For this, you must be either employed or self-employed. Most medical services are covered by the public health system. If you are unemployed, you can still benefit from the SGK by paying a monthly fee. Note that the cover offered by the SGK excludes cancer and diabetes.

Public health insurance for unemployed expats

As a legal resident in Turkey, you are eligible for a public health insurance policy with SGK. Once your insurance is established, you will be given an SGK card which can be used in public hospitals, to receive free medical services, to buy medicines at reduced prices in pharmacies and even to obtain discounts in some private hospitals. The first condition is that you must have legally resided in Turkey for at least 12 months. Then you have to pay a monthly fee to SGK. The current rate is 614 Turkish liras.

Documents required for SGK insurance application:

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of residence
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Health certificate attesting that you do not suffer from any terminal illness

Public health insurance for foreign employees

The working class in Turkey (employees and self-employed) enjoy free health care through the government insurance system SGK and Bag-Kur. Once you have received your work permit and started working, the company hiring you must register you with the SGK health insurance agency. Typically, your employer deducts a monthly premium percentage from your salary and transfers this amount to Social Security. The public insurance system SGK is, therefore, mainly financed by contributions paid by employers on behalf of employees.

Public hospitals are free for those registered with the SGK or Bag-Kur. By being registered, you will also benefit from discounts on many medicines. Members of your immediate family (spouse and children under 18) also benefit from this health system free of charge. On the other hand, you must be a resident of Turkey and have paid at least 30 days of premiums in the last 12 months to be eligible as a self-employed person. “Emekli Sandığı” is another option configured in the same way, but only available to pensioners.

In recent years, the Turkish government has improved the public health system with new hospitals, as well as state-of-the-art equipment. However, wait times can be long as hospitals are usually crowded.

General medical treatments covered by SGK and Bag-Kur in Turkey:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Maternity – birth
  • Work accident
  • Various illnesses and surgeries

Dental care is not covered by public insurance, with the exception of general examinations. However, dental care remains affordable in Turkey and, not to mention its quality meets international standards. When comparing the prices, you will notice that they are less than half of what you would pay in most European countries and the United States.

Private health insurance for expats in Turkey

If you prefer to use private health care, then it is recommended that you take out private health insurance before your departure. Among the leaders in health insurance in Turkey are Aksigorta, Allianz and Anadolu Sigorta. They all provide 24/7 help desk support for their customers and also include many other special aids such as a free ambulance service. Private insurance companies usually allow expats to make installment payments. With private health insurance, you can be sure of getting top-notch medical treatment in Turkey.

Be aware that private health insurance is compulsory for expatriates in Turkey. Moreover, if you are applying for residency, the chosen insurance company must operate in Turkey. As you are not eligible for public insurance unless you have spent at least 12 months in the country, you will have to make your choice as soon as you arrive.

The documents required to take out private insurance are as follows:

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Proof of address

Once you have purchased private health insurance, you will have full coverage for most health care benefits that you may need in the country. You can also apply for dental coverage for an additional charge. For most insurance plans, count between 1,500 to 2,000 Turkish liras per year. However, the fees vary depending on your age.

Useful links :

SGK – Turkish Social Security
How to Apply for an SKG Card