Choosing your expat health insurance in Turkey

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Updated 2020-05-25 14:40

Choosing the right health insurance is an important issue, and is not just for Turkey. It is a significant decision wherever you live in the world. Except for Canada, and a few more countries, public hospitals do not provide full service for patients free of charge, or even when they do, it is not satisfactory.

As an expat in Turkey, the main decision you need to make is to decide if you want to be serviced at a private or public hospital. Of course, there are differences in the quality and doctors available with each option. However, it also depends on where you live and your condition since some diseases are treated better at certain units. For example, some public hospitals are superior at providing better x-ray services.

Public or private healthcare in Turkey

If you need public insurance as an expat, then you can obtain it from the Turkish government-supported insurance agencies. You need to be employed or self-employed in order to benefit from this system. Most medical services are covered by public healthcare. If you are not employed, you can still benefit from SGK (Social Security Institution) as a foreigner living in Turkey by paying a monthly fee. Note that SGK does not cover for cancer and diabetes.

Public health insurance for the unemployed expats

As a foreign legal resident, you are eligible to apply for public health insurance coverage from SGK. Once you have your insurance established, you will get your SGK insurance ID card. You can show this card at public hospitals and receive free medical service, purchase discounted medicines from pharmacies, and even get discounts at some of the private hospitals. The first requirement is that you have to be in Turkey legally for at least 12 months. Next, you have to pay a monthly fee to SGK. The current rate is 614 Turkish Liras.

Documents required for the SGK insurance application:

  • Filled application form
  • Residency documents
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Health certificate showing that you do not have any terminal illnesses

Just visit the nearest SGK office to your residence and provide the above documents to apply for your SGK insurance card.

Public health insurance for the employed expats

Free healthcare is provided to the working class (employees and the self-employed) through the government insurance system SGK and Bag-Kur. Once you receive your work permit and start working at a Turkish company, your sponsor must register your information with the government-supported health insurance agency SGK. The sponsor company deducts a monthly premium percentage from your wage and transfer this amount to the Social Security Institution. Therefore, the SGK public insurance system is mainly funded by the contributions made by the employers on behalf of the employees.

Public hospitals provide free service if you have SGK or Bag-Kur, and you also get discounts on many medications. Immediate family (spouse and the children under 18) of the employees also benefit from this healthcare system free of charge. On the other hand, you need to be a resident in Turkey and pay at least 30 days' worth premiums within the last 12 months to be eligible as self-employed. ¨Emekli Sandığı¨ is another option that is set up the same way, but it is only available for the retired people.

Turkish government improved the public healthcare system over recent years with new hospitals, equipment, and advanced features in Turkey. However, you might still have to wait in lines sometimes since it may get crowded.

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

  • Infectious diseases
  • Maternity - birth
  • Occupational accidents
  • Various illnesses and surgeries

Dental is not covered by public insurance, except for general medical examinations. However, you should be aware that dental fees are very affordable, and the overall quality is extremely well in Turkey. If you compare the prices, you will notice that it is about less than half of what it is in most European countries and the US.

Private health insurance for expats in Turkey

If you prefer private healthcare, then you need to select one of the plans from the private insurance agencies. The most popular ones are Aksigorta, Allianz, and Anadolu Sigorta. They all provide 24/7 help centre assistance for their clients and also include many other special aids such as the free ambulance service. Private insurance agencies generally allow the expats to make payments in instalments. You can be sure that you will get high-class medical treatment in Turkey with your private health insurance contract.

Keep in mind that it is mandatory by the Turkish law for foreigners to have health insurance while they are in Turkey. Plus, the insurance company must be operating in Turkey if you are applying for residency. Since you cannot obtain public insurance unless you spend at least 12 months in the country, you will need to select one of the private insurance agencies once you arrive.

Documents required for the Private Insurance application:

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

You will be eligible for full coverage for most healthcare provisions once you get your private insurance plan. However, you can also get coverage for dental care with additional fees. Most plans cost approximately 1,500 to 2,000 Turkish Liras annually, but the fees change according to your age.

 Useful links:

SGK ? Social Security Institution
How to apply for SGK insurance card?

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