Healthcare in Turkey
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The quality of healthcare in Turkey varies from region to region. Expats moving to Turkey will be happy to know that healthcare in the country is generally cheaper than elsewhere in Europe, and that there are many private and public hospitals across the country.
Expats moving to one of the major urban centres in Turkey, such as Istanbul or Ankara, as well as a few others, will have access to high-quality private hospitals with experienced doctors and medical staff, most of whom can speak English. However, those living in more rural areas will find access to healthcare still quite limited.
Public healthcare in Turkey
Public healthcare in Turkey is not up to the standards that expats from Europe and North America are familiar with. Nevertheless, with rising competition from private hospitals, there has been an increase in the quality of public institutions in recent years. However, most expats still choose to go to a private medical facility.
Private healthcare in Turkey
Private hospitals in Turkey are relatively cheap and offer good quality care. In fact, Turkey is beginning to make a name for itself as a medical tourism destination, particularly in the areas of cosmetic surgery, dentistry and fertility treatment. It’s normally easy to make an appointment at a private hospital as many of them have English speaking call centres.
Medicines and pharmacies in Turkey
Pharmacies (eczane) are plentiful in the main towns and cities. Expats living in Turkey will find that accessing medicines at pharmacies is relatively easy as many prescription medications are available cheaply and over the counter. Most neighbourhoods in major cities have a duty pharmacy that is generally open 24 hours a day.
Health insurance in Turkey
It's compulsory for all residents who are under 65 and living in Turkey to have either public or private health insurance.
Expats who have been a resident in Turkey for more than a year with a valid residence permit are able to apply to Turkey's public health insurance scheme, which is administered by the state-run Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK). Many employers contribute to public health insurance on their employee’s behalf. Despite this, many expats opt for additional private medical insurance to supplement their public insurance and to cover medical care at private institutions. It’s worth noting that the European Health Insurance Card, relating to free medical treatment in EU countries, is not valid in Turkey.
There are a number of international companies offering private expat health insurance, and local Turkish companies also offer competitive rates and services. International health insurance can cost thousands of US dollars per year, depending on one’s policy and benefits, but local Turkish health insurance is equally effective and far cheaper.
Health hazards in Turkey
Expats should only drink bottled water. Malaria is present in the southeastern regions of Turkey, and prophylaxis is necessary if travelling to the affected areas. May to October is the highest risk period.
Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Turkey
There are no specific vaccinations required for entry into Turkey, although those coming from a yellow fever infected area should have a yellow fever certificate.
It’s also recommended to have a rabies injection, especially if travelling outside of the main urban areas, as Turkey has one of the highest incidents of rabies in Europe.
Emergency services in Turkey
Turkey has a public ambulance service, which can be contacted by dialling 112, but operators may not be able to understand English.
Some hospitals in the major cities offer private ambulance services which can be accessed directly. These are often better equipped and have faster response times than public ambulances.