Turkey’s health system claims to provide care for all citizens but in reality the nation’s public health system suffers from inefficiency and low quality care. The Turkish government has, in recent years begun an extensive health care reform programme whose ultimate goal is to create a single administrative agency to cover the country’s entire population.
In theory, the reforms will provide every legally employed person in Turkey and his dependents with free health care in all public hospitals and make them eligible for heavily discounted medications. The new system also seeks to provide free care for children until the age of 18. The reforms however, have not yet materialised as promised.
Public Healthcare in Turkey
Expats should only seek care at a state hospital in dire emergency’s or when suffering financial problems. If you can afford it always go for private healthcare.
You are only eligible for treatment at a public hospital if you married to a Turk or are in full time employment. Public healthcare is often short of funds and while the standard of Doctors is similar to the rest of the world the equipment however is more than likely not. State hospitals do not provide patients with meals so it is vital that you have friends or family to provide you with food if in for an extended stay (and you think the NHS is bad!).
As a general rule, bring anything you think you´ll need with you to a state hospital. This is not limited to food and creature comforts: since most state hospitals are usually critically short of blood, you will want to have your own donors at the ready. Make sure you know your friends´ and family members´ blood types if you go in for surgery!
If you can, try and get submitted into a teaching hospital, these tend to be cheaper but the actual hospitals are often more well-maintained and well-funded. They also tend to be cleaner than public hospitals and often have qualified doctors on call 24-hours a day. The disadvantage to these types of hospital is that since the doctors are highly qualified, they are often backed up by less-qualified nursing staff.
If you find yourself in need of medical care whilst in a rural area you can usually find assistance at local clinics.
The best option for expats is to go private. Your private insurance provider will provide you with a list of private hospitals and clinics when you register for your plan. In comparison to state hospitals, private Turkish healthcare facilities are classed as some of the best in the world and have even won international recognition for their quality of care. Private hospital staff, speak English and other languages.