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What Options Are Available For Chronically Ill Expats In Turkey?

If you suffer from a chronic illness, then moving abroad can be a stressful time, especially if you are not familiar with your destination’s healthcare system. But if you are planning on moving to Turkey, we have got you covered—here’s what you need to know.


Public vs private healthcare: which is the best option for treating chronic illnesses?

The treatment options available to you will vary depending upon what your ailment is, the severity of your ailment, and what type of insurance you have. In Turkey, there are three ways in which you can receive healthcare:

  • Universal health insurance
  • Personal health insurance
  • Paying privately

Public healthcare

Universal health insurance or Genel Sağlık Sigortası, as it is known in Turkey – is the country’s national healthcare service. Designed to cover patients for accidents, emergencies and ongoing care and treatments, the system helps those who use it to receive affordable and high-quality medical care. It also covers childbirth and fertility treatment.

The service is available to Turkish citizens and residents. It covers ongoing care and prescriptions for a lot of treatments, which is useful for those suffering from chronic illnesses. 

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To sign up to the universal healthcare system, you’ll need to register with the Social Security Institution (SGK) and have citizenship, residency, or proof that you’ve lived in the country for over one year. In addition to this, you’ll also need to submit copies of your passport and visa information (if applicable). 

Once you have registered, you will be able to use the universal health insurance and will receive certain medical treatments, from hospitals contracted to the SGK, free of charge.

If, however, your condition is not covered, you will need to obtain private health insurance or pay for your medical expenses yourself.

Private healthcare

Whilst you can pay for medical expenses directly, paying for treatment in this way can end up being expensive—especially when treatment is ongoing. It can often be more cost-effective to have a private health insurance plan in place. This will help protect you from inflation costs and ensure your healthcare remains affordable during your treatment.

The type of policy you’ll be eligible for will depend upon your illness and its severity, as each insurer has different criteria that applicants must meet. Because of this, some conditions may be excluded from standard policies, so you’ll need to check whether your chronic illness is covered. 

If it is not, there are insurance companies that will often cover the condition if an additional premium is paid. Alternatively, there are specialist insurers that can be used, which, whilst often more expensive, work out better in terms of coverage, as they offer a more niche product.


What is the quality of healthcare like in Turkey?

A lot of expats use private hospital facilities for their medical needs, as these often have newer equipment and more English-speaking staff. Whilst private treatment can be an expensive option, healthcare costs in Turkey are reasonable. When compared to countries such as the United Kingdom, they can work out to be around 50% cheaper.

If you are planning to stay in Turkey long-term, it is worth investing in private health insurance. This will help ensure that you don’t suffer from the long wait times and lengthy referral processes that people often experience in the public sector.

When it comes to choosing a medical facility, your options will depend on your location. The more densely populated areas will have more medical facilities available. The type of facility you will need will be determined by your condition. For example, cancer patients undergoing chemo or radiotherapy will need to visit a hospital for treatment. On the other hand, those who suffer from arthritis may find that a clinic is more suitable for their requirements.

In addition to the numerous private providers that treat chronic illnesses in Turkey, there are also several facilities that offer alternative treatments. You may want to research these if you’re looking for something outside of conventional medicine. For example, there are resorts that have tailored programmes and packages for those who suffer from arthritis.

If you are new to Turkey and aren’t sure about the standards of your local facilities, use third-party review sites to check them out. Alternatively, network with other expats, either through forums or dedicated Facebook groups.

Overall, the quality of healthcare in Turkey is good, and healthcare standards there continue to rise. As a result, more people are visiting Turkey for their medical needs. This not only gives a boost to the local economy, but also provides an affordable option to those who wish to get treatment outside of their home country.

Private healthcare in Turkey is often seen as better than the public healthcare service. However, this is mainly due to the shorter wait times and better funding, rather than the actual advice or treatment on offer.

So, if you’re looking to move to Turkey and are worried about transferring the handling of your medical needs to a different medical facility, don’t be. Patients can undergo treatment knowing that they’re in safe hands, meanwhile enjoying the beautifully diverse landscapes that Turkey has to offer!

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