As expats plan their new life in Turkey, one of the most critical aspects to consider is understanding and navigating the Turkish healthcare system. The right approach to healthcare ensures the well-being and safety of you and your family, paving the way for a smooth transition into life in Turkey. From public healthcare services to private hospitals and various insurance options, this guide will provide you with essential insights, helping you make informed decisions about your healthcare needs.

Turkey boasts a comprehensive healthcare system encompassing the public and private sectors. While the public healthcare system offers essential services free of charge or at a minimal cost, private healthcare providers cater to those who seek more specialized treatment options and personalized services. In this guide, we will discuss the benefits, challenges, and qualifications associated with accessing public healthcare services, as well as the advantages of opting for private healthcare.

Health insurance is another crucial aspect of the Turkish healthcare system that expats need to understand. We will guide you through various health insurance options - from mandatory Universal Health Insurance (SGK) to private insurance policies and supplementary coverage plans - to help you choose the most suitable insurance package for your needs.

Navigating the healthcare system in any country can be daunting, especially for those new to the language and cultural norms. To help you overcome any potential difficulties, we will share practical tips and tricks to efficiently navigate the healthcare system in Turkey. Additionally, we will cover essential information regarding emergency medical services, including emergency numbers, ambulance services, and first aid centres.

Equipping yourself with knowledge and understanding of the Turkish healthcare system is crucial for the well-being and peace of mind of you and your loved ones. Use our guide as a roadmap to explore the various healthcare options available to you, ensuring you can access the best possible care in your new home.

Public Healthcare in Turkey

The Turkish public healthcare system, offered through the Ministry of Health, provides a range of essential healthcare services to citizens and qualified expats. These services include primary care, specialized treatment, and emergency care. Before accessing public healthcare services, expats must first meet specific qualifications:

  1. Residency: Expats need to obtain a valid Turkish residence permit to access public healthcare services.
  2. Employment: Working expats who contribute to the Turkish social security system are eligible for Universal Health Insurance (SGK), which grants access to public healthcare.
  3. Social Security Agreement: Citizens from countries with a bilateral social security agreement with Turkey may qualify for public healthcare services in Turkey, subject to certain conditions.

Despite the low cost, the public healthcare system might have some drawbacks, including longer waiting times, limited availability of English-speaking staff, and fewer specialized treatment options compared to private healthcare.

Private Healthcare in Turkey

Private healthcare is a popular choice among expats for several reasons. These institutions often boast modern facilities, highly qualified staff, and shorter waiting times for treatments. Some notable advantages of private healthcare in Turkey include:

  1. Specialized Treatments: Private healthcare providers often offer a wider range of specialised treatments compared to the public healthcare system.
  2. English-speaking Staff: Expats might find it more convenient to communicate their healthcare needs with the English-speaking staff commonly found in private hospitals.
  3. International Standard: Many private hospitals in Turkey are accredited by international healthcare organisations, reflecting their commitment to global quality standards.

However, the primary downside of private healthcare is the higher cost. It is essential to thoroughly review your health insurance policy to determine whether it covers the treatment options available in private healthcare facilities.

Health Insurance in Turkey

Understanding the various health insurance options is crucial to ensure proper coverage for you and your family. Here are the primary health insurance options available for expats in Turkey:

  1. Universal Health Insurance (SGK): SGK is the mandatory health insurance provided by the government, covering Turkish citizens, residents, and eligible expats working in Turkey. SGK offers access to public healthcare services, either free of charge or at discounted rates. To enrol in SGK, expats are required to apply within three months of obtaining a residence permit and submit proof of residence, a valid passport, and employment details.
  2. Private Health Insurance: Many expats opt for private health insurance policies that cater to their specific healthcare needs. These policies may include broader coverage, quicker access to treatments, and international coverage. To choose the most suitable policy, compare the plans offered by various insurance providers, ensuring the chosen plan matches your healthcare preferences and budget.
  3. Supplementary Health Insurance: Supplementary health insurance policies function as an additional layer of coverage alongside SGK. These policies allow policyholders to access private healthcare services not covered by the public healthcare system. Purchasing supplementary health insurance can be particularly useful for those seeking specialised treatments or shorter waiting times.

Tips for Navigating the Healthcare System

To help you efficiently navigate the healthcare system, consider these practical tips and tricks:

  1. Know Your Insurance Policy: Ensure you fully understand your insurance policy's terms and conditions, to avoid any unexpected costs or difficulties in receiving treatment.
  2. Carry Relevant Documents: Before visiting a healthcare facility, make sure to carry the necessary documents, such as your residence permit, insurance policy, and any relevant medical records.
  3. Learn Basic Medical Terminology: Familiarize yourself with some basic Turkish medical terms to better communicate with healthcare professionals.
  4. Seek Recommendations: Reach out to your local community, friends, or fellow expats for recommendations regarding reputable healthcare facilities and medical professionals.

Emergency Medical Services in Turkey

In case of medical emergencies, it is essential to know the available emergency services in Turkey:

  1. Emergency Numbers: Dial 112 for medical emergencies and ambulance services. For other emergencies, dial 155 (police) or 110 (fire).
  2. Ambulance Services: Ambulance services are usually provided free of charge, but it is crucial to know your insurance policy coverage for emergency transport.
  3. First Aid Centers: Turkey has several first aid centres that provide basic medical care for injuries and minor ailments. It is crucial to locate the closest first aid centres to your residence or workplace.


Understanding and navigating the Turkish healthcare system is essential for ensuring the well-being of expats and their families. Equip yourself with knowledge about public and private healthcare options, various insurance plans, and valuable tips to make the most of Turkey’s healthcare system. With the right approach to healthcare, you can ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and your loved ones as you transition into your new life in Turkey.

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