Healthcare System in Turkey
Turkey offers high-quality health services. The statutory provision in the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey clarifies; "Everyone has the right to social security”, which provides access to health services for all citizens. Both public and private health services are easily accessible and affordable.
The revolutionary steps in recent years have led Turkey’s healthcare system to come to the fore across the world as in many other fields. While the medical infrastructure has been rapidly improving, the bed capacity has increased with newly opened health centers. The rise in the number of physicians who specialize in different areas with the help of modernizing medical education has increased the level of expertise of the country in many new areas like aesthetic, eye and heart surgeries.
Health Services That Turkey Offers
Turkey provides services in all medical specialties like; eye diseases, orthopedics and traumatology, internal medicine, otorhinolaryngology, gynecology, general surgery, oral and dental diseases, neurosurgery, skin and venereal diseases (dermatology), and pediatrics. On the other hand, Turkey has stood out a few steps in organ transplants, eye and dental care, plastic surgery, and hair transplantation areas in recent years. This diversity in healthcare services creates an attractive environment for both "medical tourists" and an increasing number of "international retirees".
Why Turkey for Health Services?
High service quality; accessibility for 1.5 billion people from 3 different continents within a four-hour flight distance, geographical and strategic location, and temperate climate puts Turkey forward in the medical field around the world.
One of the most important elements that make Turkey one of the top countries in healthcare systems in the world is the expertise and experience of the physicians. Due to the general understanding in the country and the education system, intelligent and successful students’ first preferences are the medical schools.
On the other hand, due to the population density and structure, the number and variety of cases faced by medical doctors in their fields of expertise are quite high compared to many developed countries. This increases the opportunity of "on-the-job training" and gives doctors an important experience. These two cases are to ensure that the quality of the medical staff is high in this country.
What makes Turkey a center of attraction and makes it advantageous compared to other countries can be summarized as follows:
• Healthcare services above world standards
• Strong health technology infrastructure and high bed capacity
• Number of accredited health institutions and organizations
• Number of specialist physicians in different fields
• Advanced technological treatment methods
• Competitive price level
• Personalized treatment methods
• Foreign language speaking service personnel
• Short waiting times
• Complementary and alternative medicine opportunities in addition to traditional medicine methods
All these features attract tourists who visit the country for health purposes or those who want to live a healthy life after retirement and benefit from high-quality health services.
Prices in the Health Sector in Turkey
Although the first reason is the developed healthcare services over the world standards for people who choose Turkey for health services, one of the most important reasons which contribute to this choice is the competitive price level. This does not necessarily mean that "Health Services" are cheap in Turkey; however, it means operations in Turkey are more affordable when compared to most of the European countries due to the low general living costs in Turkey. According to the OECD hospital services price index, Turkey is among the countries with the lowest indexed countries according to an average of 41 indexes of 100. While the European Union average is 91, the USA is among the highest countries with an index of 115. Switzerland stands out as the country with the highest index with 115.
We can examine the price advantage in healthcare through a few examples.
• While hip replacement surgery prices are around 40,000 USD in the USA, the prices are between 12,000-14,000 USD in Turkey.
• While IVF (in-vitro fertilization) treatment prices vary between 15,000-20,000 USD in the USA, the same treatment can be completed for 2.500 to 3.000 USD in Turkey.
• While prices of laser operations such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism treatments vary between 4.000 and 8.000 Euro in European countries, the prices are between 600-750 Euros in Turkey.
• While the price of the by-pass surgery in the United States is between 94.000 and 210.000 USD, it is 12,000 USD in Turkey; angioplasty is between 44.000 to 98.000 USD in the USA, the same operation costs 3,500 USD in Turkey.
• Dental implant prices are between 1.000 and 3000 USD in the UK or the USA, while this operation costs between 500-800 USD in Turkey.
• While rhinoplasty price is 6.500 USD in the US, the average price is around 3.100 USD in Turkey. This operation may cost up to 18,000 USD in Switzerland.
•. Turkey, especially in the hair transplantation surgery field, stands out with both expertise and experience and also with prices in the world. While hair transplantation costs between 1.700 and 2.000 USD in Turkey, this figure can go up ten times it in England and the United States, in other words up to 25,000 USD.
• Again, liposuction among the cosmetic surgeries' costs %50 less in Turkey when compared to the USA. While the prices are between 1.250 and 3.000 USD in Turkey, this figure is 5.500 USD in the USA and 6.000 to 11.000 USD in Germany.
A similar comparison can be made over prescription medicines. Most of the standard medicines in Turkey are much more affordable than their equivalents in the UK, USA, and European countries. We can take one of the popular stomach medicines as an example. While 40 mg version of the same medicine produced by an international medicine producer company is for 7.78 USD in the USA, 3.37 USD in Canada, 2.21 USD in the UK; the sales price of this medicine is 37 cents in Turkey.
How Can I Use Health Services in Turkey as a Foreigner?
Turkey, as a social state, offers health and education services to its all citizens. Thanks to the social security system called General Health Insurance (GSS), many medical expenditures are covered by the state. Basic requirements for foreigners wishing to benefit from health services in Turkey are not having insurance in another country and having been living in Turkey for more than a year with a residence permit. Foreign country nationals can benefit from General Health Insurance by applying after this period.
On the other hand, citizenship by investment program, purchasing a property worth 250,000 USD in Turkey also provides you benefit from all the public services. Foreigners who obtained citizenship by purchasing at least 250 thousand USD worth of real estate and their families can benefit from the advantages of health system lifelong in Turkey.
The spouse, children under the age of eighteen, and dependent parents of foreign nationals who are entitled to General Health Insurance can benefit from these services.
General Health Insurance covers certain private hospitals along with the right to benefit from all public hospitals and clinics. Family Health Centers in almost every neighborhood provide ease of access.
People who have General Health Insurance can make an appointment from the hospitals they want to go to by calling or through their applications on smart devices. Thanks to the appointment processes that are adjusted according to the day and time of the patients, waiting in hospitals, long queues, and time losses are prevented.
General Health Insurance covers not an only examination but also the treatment and medication expenses. Under the social security system, agreements have been made with all pharmacies and patients can have medicines by paying little difference.
We can list the services that can be used free of charge with general health insurance as follows:
• Examination fees
• Medicine expenses
• Surgeries and organ transplants
• Diagnostic biochemistry, microbiology, pathology examinations, radiological examination, and imaging performed during inpatient treatment
• Physical therapy and rehabilitation after surgery
• Long-term treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, dialysis, etc.
• Also, home care services for chronic patients, disabled people, and elderly people
Can I Benefit from Public Health Services with Turquoise Card?
Turquoise Card is a document that gives foreigners an unlimited right to work and reside in Turkey. The family of Turquoise Cardholders also benefit from the right of residency. It is a similar application to the Green Card, which has been used in the USA for many years and is known worldwide, or the Blue Card issued by the European Union. Turquoise Card has targeted to attract qualified people, scientists, artists, and athletes to Turkey, and also to eliminate the long bureaucratic processes and obstacles that foreign investors may face in their work and residence permits.
Although the Republic of Turkey allows dual citizenship, many countries do not allow it. Turquoise Card allows people to obtain work and residence permits in Turkey without losing their citizenship in their home country. Thanks to this card, it is possible to work without problems just like a Turkish citizen and to benefit from basic services within the scope of General Health Insurance. Turquoise Cardholders have the same rights as Turkish citizens, except for military service, the right to elect and to be elected, and to work in public services.
What is the Private Health Insurance Prices Like in Turkey?
Besides Turkey offers affordable medical services, both private and public, for everyone, private health insurance prices are much cheaper than many European countries. Private health insurance prices in Turkey vary between 300 and 1,500 Euro depending on the age and the general health status of the person.
Private hospitals which are quite common in Turkey, are preferred for their prices and high service quality when compared to Europe and North America.
As in all areas, the competitive approach in the structure of the private sector is also seen in the health sector. For this reason, private hospitals and clinics try to have the most successful medical doctors in their fields in order to be preferred, offering hospitals in the comfort of a 5-star hotel and faster and easier appointment opportunities. Private hospitals also stand out in terms of shorter waiting times and comfort.
What is an International Retirement? Why Turkey is Preferred?
We see that healthcare is costly in many countries around the world. The USA, which is far from the social state qualifications, is the country with the most expensive health system in the world, it does not provide any guarantee and support to its citizens regarding sanitary services. Approximately 10% of American citizens do not benefit from any private insurance. On the other hand, although basic health services are partially free for veterans and retirees, too long patient waiting times cause problems. European countries are in the same boat. In many countries, especially in the UK, we see that many people waiting in hospitals, who have been given appointments or surgery dates for months to come, are the subject of the news.
After all, people living in these countries prefer countries that offer health services at more affordable prices, as they have difficulties in meeting the necessary expenses to protect and improve their wellbeing. At this point, the concept of "International Pension" emerges. Individuals above a certain age who have health problems especially in Europe and the US, prefer Turkey after retirement to continue their lives due to the high prices seen in health services in other western countries. This situation leads to "international retirement" migration, which has been popular worldwide for the last 10 years.
Outstanding Cities in Turkey for Health Care Services
Medical tourists who want to spend their retirement time in Turkey and also wish to benefit from health services, mostly prefer Istanbul and Antalya where the health services are developing day by day. Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Muğla, and Aydın are also among the top ten cities visited for health tourism in Turkey.
Private hospitals are mostly the first preference of visitors or foreigners. However, with the new regulations, various studies have started to strengthen the health tourism infrastructure at universities and public hospitals in addition to private hospitals. Within this framework, the construction of City Hospitals, each of which is a large health complex, continues rapidly.
For health tourism, medical institutions and organizations need to be accredited by the international standards Joint Commission International (JCI). In Turkey, there are 48 units/hospitals JCI accredited medical institutions and Turkey is ranked as 2nd in the world with this number. Most of these accredited institutions are located in Istanbul. Istanbul is ranked first both in the number of accredited healthcare institutions and in the variety of services.