Choosing a birth plan is an important decision, and one that relies on many different factors. Fortunately, insurance coverage should not be an issue, considering that, as of February 2012, Turkey has implemented a universal health insurance programme. Anyone living in Turkey is required to have health insurance, although specific coverage and cost may vary.
If you’ve been living in Turkey for at least a year, and do not hold health insurance in your home country, you will need to make monthly payments of about 200 TL (approximately $30 USD) in order to receive health insurance benefits. Some countries’ insurance plans are compatible with Turkey’s and can be translated over. These countries include: Albania, Germany, Austria, Holland, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Luxembourg, Libya, Norway, the Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Turkish Republic of Cyprus, France, Quebec, Macedonia, Switzerland and Georgia.
You may qualify for insurance benefits without making monthly payments, depending on your employer. If you cannot afford the payments, Turkey offers free-of-charge healthcare for certain services, and childbirth is among these. However, this only applies to state hospitals. Therefore, keep in mind that, in order to have a higher quality of care and/or facility, you may end up paying more out of pocket.
The private health sector in Turkey is becoming more prevalent, and some employers even offer private insurance coverage for their expat employees. Many expats choose private healthcare, because it tends to offer more English-speaking doctors, higher quality care and facilities, and shorter waiting periods. Private hospitals don’t always require health insurance, so coverage may not be necessary.
Maternity care in Turkey is becoming more and more advanced. In 2010, new programmes were initiated to improve maternity care. These included: the Prenatal and Neonatal Mortality Prevention Programme, Iodine Deficiency Disorders and Salt Iodization Programme, Prevention of Vitamin D Insufficiency in Infants and Bone Health Protection Project, Hemoglobinopathy Control Programme, and Mother and Child Death Prevention Project.
Many Turkish women opt for a Caesarean section birth over a natural one, though natural births are becoming increasingly popular again. Many hospitals and obstetricians in Turkey, mainly those that are private, recommend a Caesarean birth over a natural one. Therefore, take your time in finding the right doctor and hospital for you and your needs. Caesarean births are more expensive than natural ones, and private hospitals want to make a profit.
Natural birth prices range from about US$200 to US$3000, and Caesarean births cost from about US$200 to US$3500, depending on your particular doctor, hospital, and insurance coverage. This cost will typically cover a one-night stay for a natural birth, or a two-night stay for a Caesarean.
You will need to choose the right obstetrician and hospital for your needs and preferred delivery method. There are many public and private hospitals, and any health insurance will cover the basic costs of childbirth. There are three different types of hospitals in Turkey: state-funded hospitals, university hospitals, and private hospitals.
University hospitals offer the highest standards of care and medical professionals, whereas state hospitals typically serve the middle to lower classes. They are much more likely to suffer from over-capacity or low funding. Private hospitals offer healthcare that is similar in cost and quality to in the West. However, a limited percentage of Turkish citizens can afford to use them.
Some highly recommended hospitals for childbirth include:
- Medipol (a university hospital located in Istanbul)
- Acibadem (a well-known hospital with branches throughout Turkey)
- Florence (a popular hospital in Turkey, as well as in other parts of Europe)
- Medical Park (a very highly recommended hospital with 28 locations in Turkey)
Once you’ve chosen a doctor and hospital that is right for you, you will be able to discuss your options with your obstetrician. Once your baby is born, you will need to register the child’s birth and get a birth certificate for them. In order to do this, you will need:
- The baby’s birth report from the hospital
- Both parents’ passports
- Proof of residence (i.e. residential permits)
So long as you have the necessary documents, the process of obtaining the birth certificate should be swift. You will need the birth certificate to apply for a passport for your child in your home country. Once you have a passport for your child, you can apply for their residency permit in Turkey. If you plan to stay in Turkey, you must have a permit for your newborn within six months of their birth.
Pre- and post-natal care in Turkey is of a high quality. Ultrasound tests are carried out typically every three weeks leading up to the due date. Other prenatal tests include: blood count, urinalysis, parent blood group typing, tests for toxoplasmosis, Rubella (German measles) and related tests, Hepatitis B and related tests, fasting blood glucose, and chromosome studies. Most private and public hospitals also offer prenatal courses to prepare new parents for the birth, and these are usually free of charge.
As far as postnatal care goes, congenital endocrine and metabolic disorder tests will be performed on the mother following the birth, and vaccines will be given to the child according to the schedule determined by the Turkish Ministry of Health. The vaccination schedule is as follows:
- A newborn will be vaccinated against Hepatitis B within 48 hours of the birth
- Follow up shots are given at the end of four weeks, and again after six months
The following begin once the baby is three months old:
- BCG for tuberculosis
- DTB for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough
- OPV (the oral polio vaccine)
Once the baby is a year old, they will receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. It is recommended that you vaccinate them against chicken pox and Hepatitis A at this time as well.