Overview of the healthcare system in Turkey
Many people choose Turkey as a medical tourism destination. Here, the prices are lower than in the EU or the USA, but the quality of medical services is the same.
Foreigners tend to choose Turkey over other countries for dental care, plastic surgery, and hair transplantation.
A dental implant costs about $1,200 in Turkey, which is two times less than in the States. One can expect to pay about $3,000 for rhinoplasty in Turkey. The same operation costs $6,000+ in the US.
The Türkiye healthcare system has been proven effective; as of 2023, the life expectancy in the country is 78 years, 20% more than a year ago. Turkey has both public and private healthcare.
Turkish citizens enjoy the benefits of the Universal Health Insurance.
Universal Health Insurance is on an international level in Turkey: almost 99% of the country’s population have public healthcare insurance, which covers more than 70% of healthcare expenses, including dental care.
It is mandatory to have health insurance in Turkey, so every citizen is enrolled in the national SGK system — Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu. The system is funded by taxation; employers are obliged to contribute to the scheme for their employees, while self-employed people contribute by themselves.
In large families, children under 18 and a wife are typically covered by their father’s insurance.
SGK allows Turkish citizens to seek medical treatment for free in public facilities and covers expenses for some private clinic’s services. With it, you can receive free healthcare in a private facility that is a part of the SGK system and buy prescription drugs for half the price or even get them for free.
The exceptional trait of the healthcare system in Turkey is that it covers not only primary care and emergencies but also most of the possible health risks, such as different types of diabetes and cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and such.
Universal Health Insurance also provides coverage for pregnancies and work-related injuries; for comparison, the National Insurance Scheme of Grenada covers occupational injuries only.
Expats who have lived in Turkey for more than a year can be enrolled in a public insurance scheme. To apply, you need to pay a monthly fee — about ₺800, or $30, depending on the package chosen.
If you have lived in the country for less than a year, you are obliged to have private healthcare.
Private healthcare options in Turkey
Private healthcare insurance’s price and coverage depend on the package chosen. The price is calculated by the insurer.
The most popular public health insurance companies with basic coverage starting at $20 or more a month are:
- Axa Sigorta.
The benefits of private healthcare insurance include a shorter waiting time. On the contrary, to seek treatment in a public hospital, one often needs to wait for weeks.
Private healthcare tends to have a higher quality of care and fewer or no unexpected extra fees. It also usually covers more services than SGK — for example, private insurers have packages that include facial injuries caused by traffic accidents.
Expats who do not qualify for Universal Health Insurance have to buy private insurance packages.
Health insurance when travelling to Turkey
Turkey requires all visitors to have health insurance during their stay. Most insurance companies provide international travel insurance for expats: they usually have $30,000+ of health expenses covered and cost anywhere between $50 and $300. The price depends on the coverage and the length of the stay.
The European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, is not valid in Turkey; European citizens need to buy travel insurance to visit the country.
Recently, insurance companies have begun to include additional risks, such as damage caused by earthquakes, in their extended packages.
Children's and family healthcare in Turkey
Despite the small size of the country, every neighbourhood in Turkey has a family health centre, Sağlık Merkezi.
Family medical facilities can be accessed in any region; they do not necessarily need to be the ones near where you live.
Legal residents and citizens of the country receive free care in public family health facilities — sometimes even with no queuing, if they make an appointment online by visiting mhrs.gov.tr.
Other medicine services in Turkey
Mental healthcare. Turkey is working on improving the current mental healthcare system by opening mental health facilities and training specialists. According to the Ministry of Health of Turkey, one in nine people in the country seeks mental health help.
In-patient psychiatric treatment is usually provided in every medical facility in Turkey. There are also psychiatric hospitals, such as Bakırköy Psychiatric Hospital.
Alternative medicine. Turkey is also a place where you can find alternative medicine practices that are based on natural products such as herbs and plants, and traditional health therapies. Licenced physicians practise alternative medicine using long-known combinations of herbs.
One of the most widely used procedures in alternative medicine is cupping therapy: heated cups are applied to the patient’s back. This and other alternative medicine procedures can only be performed by a licenced physician.
How much does healthcare cost in Turkey?
The quality of healthcare in Turkey is on the same level as in the EU, the UK, and the USA, but the prices are 70% or more lower.
Services that are paid for in the USA and the EU, such as dental care, are free for legal residents and citizens of Turkey. Private healthcare services are also cheaper than in other countries with the same level of medical treatment quality.
The average cost of a complex coronary bypass surgery in Turkey is $14,000, which is nine times cheaper than in the USA.
Pregnancy care is free for those under Universal Healthcare Insurance in Turkey. A planned C-section delivery’s price is $300+, whereas in the US or the UK it is $2,300+.
Clinics in Turkey
Turkey has about 30 JCI-accredited medical facilities, more than anywhere in Europe. JCI accreditation is a quality mark. It confirms the higher quality of treatment provided and the general patients’ safety.
There are about 900 public and 600 private hospitals in the country. The public facilities are under the Ministry of Health's control and are available to residents and citizens of Turkey.
State-owned hospitals of Turkey
Ankara Bilkent City Hospital
Address: Üniversiteler Mahallesi 1604. Cadde No: 9 Çankaya/ANKARA
Phone: +90 312 552 60 00
Ankara Etlik City Hospital
Address: Original, Varlık Mahallesi, Halil Sezai Erkut Caddesi Etlik Keçiören/ANKARA
Bakırköy Psychiatric Hospital
Address: Zuhuratbaba, Dr. Tevfik Sağlam Cd 25/2, 34147 Bakırköy/İstanbul
Phone: +90 212 409 15 15
Başakşehir Çam and Sakura City Hospital
Başakşehir, Olimpiyat Bulvarı Yolu, 34480 Başakşehir/İstanbul, Türkiye
Marmara University Prof. Dr. Asaf Ataseven Hospital
Address: Başıbüyük, 34854 Maltepe/İstanbul
Phone: +90 216 606 11 41
Sancaktepe Prof. Dr. Feriha Öz Emergency Hospital
Address: Sarıgazi, 34785 Sancaktepe/İstanbul
Yeşilköy Prof. Dr. Murat Dilmener Emergency Hospital
Address: Yeşilköy, Yeşilköy Cd., 34153 Bakırköy/İstanbul
Phone: +90 212 414 30 00
5 benefits of Turkish healthcare system
1. Affordable public healthcare. Turkey’s public healthcare system is both effective and affordable; services provided are on par with those in other countries known for medical tourism, such as Israel or the US. However, the prices are much lower. Legal residents and citizens under Universal Health Insurance can access free, international-level healthcare.
2. A robust private healthcare sector. In addition to advanced public health insurance, Turkey has a wide market of different insurance providers for any budget.
3. Cheaper private healthcare. On average, private healthcare services cost about 50—70% less than the same services in the US, the UK, or the EU. Turkey is more affordable than any other country famous for medical tourism, such as the UAE or Israel.
4. Accessible healthcare for expats. Immigrants who have lived in Turkey for more than a year qualify for national healthcare services; they only need to apply at the local Social Security Centre. Expats who have obtained Turkish citizenship by investment enjoy all the benefits of the country’s healthcare system.
5. Public insurance for the family. When an investor applies for SGK services, their insurance covers their spouse and children under 18 as well.
Disadvantages of Turkish healthcare system
A shortage of medical staff is one of the main problems in Turkey. The number of doctors per 1,000 citizens is twice as low as in the EU.
Due to a shortage of medical staff, waiting times in public medical facilities are long and can take weeks. This includes waiting for surgeries and primary care.
Turkey is actively working to solve the problem: there are about 50 medical schools in the country. The schools are training practitioners to work in JCI-accredited clinics.
How to get Turkish citizenship and enjoy healthcare benefits
Foreigners are most likely to pay more for healthcare services than legal residents and citizens of Turkey. To enjoy the benefits of public healthcare, investors can obtain Turkish citizenship by investment.
Turkey has five investment options:
- buying property — from $400,000;
- investing in local business — from $500,000;
- opening bank deposit — from $500,000;
- purchasing government bonds — from $500,000;
- purchasing units in an investment fund — from $500,000.
9 out of 10 investors choose to buy property in Turkey, where prices grow on average by 25% per year. Investors can buy any property, including private housing and commercial property. The investment can be returned in three years.
Investors can include a spouse and children under 18 in their application. The same family members are covered by the Universal Health Insurance in Turkey if the investor applies for SGK services.
Turkish citizens are usually free from paying more in both private and public medical facilities. Foreigners healthcare expenses do not depend on the insurance package. All medical services, both covered by insurance plans and paid out-of-pocket, typically cost more for non-residents.
- Turkey has both public and private healthcare. Private healthcare options coexist with the Universal Healthcare Insurance, which provides basic coverage for Turkish citizens.
- The Universal Healthcare Insurance is state-funded by taxation.
- Turkey’s medicine is on an international level. The country has more than 20 JCI-accredited medical facilities — more than anywhere in Europe.
- Medicine in Turkey is affordable. Prices there are usually 50% or more lower than in the US, the UK, or the EU. Turkey is a popular medical tourism destination.
- One of the disadvantages of the Turkish healthcare system is a medical staff shortage, which is why the facilities are usually better in big cities such as Istanbul and Ankara.
Frequently Asked Questions
Turkey’s healthcare is on the same level as in the US, but the prices are usually lower. The Türkiye healthcare system is effective: the life expectancy in the country is 78 years, same as in the US.
Turkey offers tax-funded health insurance for its citizens. It covers most of the possible health risks, including primary care, surgeries, and work-related injuries. To qualify, expats need to live in Turkey for at least a year.
Investors who obtained Turkish citizenship by investment do not have to live in the country to qualify for SGK services.
For Turkish citizens, healthcare is mostly free; they are covered by a state-funded national insurance plan. State hospitals can sometimes charge small sums for certain services, but it is significantly more affordable than paying out-of-pocket for private healthcare.
Private healthcare options in Turkey are represented by paid health insurance plans provided by major insurance companies, such as Allainz or Aksigorta.
Yes, you need health insurance in Turkey. Tourists are obliged to have travel insurance when visiting Turkey. It should cover at least $30,000 in healthcare expenses and be valid in Turkey.
Public medical facilities usually provide services for free for those covered by Universal Health Insurance. However, patients can be charged extra for co-treatment and certain services on the spot. These charges are not high compared to expenses on private clinics’ services.