The Truth About Health Insurance for Expats in Turkey

Health Insurance in Turkey

In June the Turkish government decided to change the rules relating to the requirement of all expats to have compulsory health insurance if they wanted to gain residency to live in Turkey.  Now, if you’re over 65 you no longer have to have medical insurance in place – however, was taking this step a sensible one?

British expats like to play by the rules if they possibly can – it’s the British way!  But a country like Turkey can try the patience of a saint…let alone a British expat who wants to remain on the right side of the law when attempting to gain or retain residency to live in Turkey.  The confusing rules about who must have health insurance and where they are allowed to buy it from have been creating a lot of difficult for many expats.

Those who are considering moving to Turkey have apparently been put off the nation because of the expensive addition of the medical insurance requirement to the whole relocation business.  And some living in Turkey already who have taken out expensive medical insurance now believe they needn’t have done so.  So, for the record, we will explain the truth about compulsory medical insurance for any expat/would-be expat who wants to go and live in Turkey.

The rules, as they currently stand, require any foreign citizen under the age of 65 to have health insurance if they want to have residency in Turkey.

The options open to each individual under the age of 65 are either buy your own private medical insurance, or join Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (SGK) which is the state insurance scheme category open to expatriates.

To join SGK you have to have a health assessment, and monthly fees are fixed.  They are currently 270TL.  This premium will cover a married couple and any dependents under the age of 18.

Note: there is no discount for a single person and couples not legally married have to pay separate premiums.

There are plenty of private insurers in Turkey and internationally which offer health insurance policies to expats as an alternative.  And in Turkey there are state and private hospitals and medical facilities.  Depending on which type of insurance you opt for, you will be eligible for care at either a state or a private medical facility.

Note however, if you take out SGK some private hospital treatment may be covered.  Never assume however, always ask in advance!

If you join SGK you can’t opt to unsubscribe unless you leave Turkey permanently and give up your residency.

If you’re over 65 you no longer have to have compulsory medical insurance in place in order to be able to receive or renew your residency.  This is because those responsible for introducing the entire scheme became aware that it was restrictively expensive for many over the age of 65 to get private health insurance, or even afford SGK.

If you’re over 65 and can afford to do so, many are encouraging you to join SGK however, because it will mean that no matter what, any health issues will be covered and you won’t be hit by spiralling costs as price increases are likely to remain within realistic and modest limits.

You can choose to pay as you go for treatment instead however, but bear in mind that a long-term, chronic or serious condition could incur seriously high costs that might become unaffordable, and leave you in an exceptionally vulnerable position at a time in your life when you can’t recover financially speaking.

What’s more, British expats are reminded that they will not be covered for such conditions by the NHS either…

Britons relocating overseas often struggle to accept having to pay out for health insurance or health care…however, when resident in the UK every tax-paying individual funds the NHS annually via their wage packet.  Therefore, we strongly urge anyone moving abroad to accept the need to continue to cover the protection of their health by buying appropriate health insurance.

Whether you’re moving to Turkey or Thailand, America or Zambia plan to have to pay for health insurance!