How does Health Insurance in Turkey work for foreigners?



Similar to many other countries in the world, Turkey offers free medical services for those covered by their health insurance. Every person having an official, legal job receives health insurance automatically through the payments made by their employers. This is mandatory. So, in general, people do not pay for medical services in state hospitals. Unlike countries where health insurance is run by private companies, like in Germany, an overall big insurance company belonging to the government, known as SGK, covers nearly all health insurances of the people.

Technically, the hospital providing you with medical service, as well as the insurance paying for you, is run by the very same organization, the government. This makes many things easy since you do not need a middleman during the payment services, and everything is done fully automatically. This is actually how it is done in private companies, just to emphasize that both ends are controlled and regulated by the state rather than private companies.

How does Health Insurance in Turkey works for foreign medical students?

Foreign medical students do not receive free medical insurance either from the university or the affiliated hospital. They need to cover their insurance by themselves. There are private companies offering insurance for foreign people, where mostly an annual payment is required. Also, the SGK covers a special program to cover foreign students, but from what I have heard, their prices are somehow much more compared to private companies.

How is an appointment made for foreign students?

Firstly, you need to have an appointment. You cannot see the doctor unless you have an appointment. You do not need to pay for the appointment itself. But before having the appointment, they want you to visit the so-called “Vezne,” where they want you to pay for the examination. Without this, you are not allowed to see the doctor. After you have done this, you see the doctor. In case other tests are ordered, such as laboratory or imaging tests, you are kindly asked to see the Vezne at the end and pay for them. This month, on 13/03/2023, a friend was suspected of acute appendicitis. For the overall procedure, including emergency examination, preoperative blood tests, urine test, and ultrasound, he paid 1000 TL in total, which was around 33 dollars at that time, which is relatively good.

On the other hand, private universities offer cheaper services for their own students. In our university, last year, medical students were not covered by the insurance even though they were working in the hospital fully. But, somehow, medical students that are 25 years of age have the right to medical insurance independent of their heritage. I believe this is an official rule applicable for every medical student or student in general.

What is the Role of SGK in Turkey’s Healthcare System?

In Turkey, the Social Security Institution, known as SGK, plays a pivotal role in managing and regulating health insurance for the majority of the population. But what exactly does SGK do, and how does it impact access to healthcare for Turkish citizens and residents?

How Does Health Insurance Coverage Work in Turkey?

Understanding how health insurance coverage functions in Turkey is crucial for accessing medical services without financial strain. What does SGK cover, and how does it differ from private insurance options? Let’s dive into the details.

What are the Options for Foreign Students Seeking Health Insurance in Turkey?

For foreign students studying in Turkey, navigating the health insurance system can be complex. What are the options available for foreign students, and how do they differ from those for Turkish citizens? Let’s explore the various insurance options for international students.

How Can Individuals Choose the Right Insurance Company?

Before choosing the right medical insurance company for you, I would advise you to check if the existing insurance you already have in your home country may offer a service covering international insurance. In fact, my insurance in Germany has a special agreement with Turkey, allowing me to get covered for emergency as well as routine services there. Of course, a lot of paperwork is needed, and a persistent residency including an address is required, but it’s worth it. For most countries, unfortunately, this is not the case.

After this, check which one you are able to have insurance from. They can have different criteria for accepting someone. In case you cannot receive their services, there is no need to know what they are covering. This makes sense. Many of my friends paid some thousand dollars per year for their insurance, which covered many services. Sometimes, they did not.

Frequently Asked Questions about Health Insurance in Turkey

1. How Does SGK Differ from Private Health Insurance Companies in Turkey?

SGK, the Social Security Institution in Turkey, is a government entity that provides health insurance coverage to the majority of the population. Private health insurance companies, on the other hand, offer alternative coverage options with varying benefits and premiums. Understanding the differences between SGK and private insurance can help individuals make informed decisions about their healthcare coverage.

2. What Services are Covered by SGK in Turkey?

SGK provides comprehensive coverage for a wide range of medical services, including doctor consultations, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and preventive care. Knowing what services are covered under SGK can help individuals access necessary healthcare without unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

3. How Can Foreign Students Obtain Health Insurance in Turkey?

Foreign students studying in Turkey have several options for obtaining health insurance. They can purchase insurance from private companies offering coverage for international students, or they can enroll in SGK’s special program for foreign students. Understanding the eligibility criteria and coverage benefits of each option is essential for foreign students seeking health insurance in Turkey.

4. What Factors Should Individuals Consider When Choosing Health Insurance in Turkey?

When selecting, individuals should consider factors such as coverage benefits, premiums, network of healthcare providers, and customer service quality. Additionally, evaluating personal healthcare needs and budget constraints can help individuals choose the most suitable insurance plan for their circumstances.

5. Are There Any Additional Costs Associated with Health Insurance in Turkey?

While SGK covers the majority of medical expenses for its beneficiaries, individuals may still incur additional costs such as co-payments for certain services or medications not fully covered by insurance. Private insurance plans may also have deductibles or co-insurance requirements that individuals should be aware of when choosing a plan.

6. How Can Individuals File Claims and Utilize Their Health Insurance Benefits?

Understanding the process for filing claims and utilizing health insurance benefits is essential for maximizing coverage in Turkey. Whether accessing healthcare services at state hospitals covered by SGK or private facilities under a private insurance plan, knowing how to navigate the claims process can ensure smooth reimbursement and access to necessary care.

7. What Happens if Individuals Do Not Have Health Insurance?

In Turkey, access to healthcare services is largely contingent on having health insurance coverage. Individuals without insurance may still receive emergency care at state hospitals, but they may be required to pay out-of-pocket for non-emergency services. Obtaining health insurance is therefore essential for accessing comprehensive healthcare services in Turkey.