The Turkish health care system


On paper, Turkey provides health care for all its citizens (including the homeless). In reality, its embattled public health system is fraught with inefficiency and low quality care.

For many years, 3 different agencies administered Turkey´s health care system: SSK (which covered employees), Bağ-Kur, (which covered the self-employed), and Emekli Sandık (which covered retired government workers). These programs were inefficient and overburdened, and it was difficult for them to communicate with one another when people left one system for another (by retiring, for example).

The government has recently begun extensive health care reform, with the ultimate goal of creating a single administrative agency to cover everyone in Turkey. In theory, the reforms will provide every legally employed person in Turkey and his dependents with free health care in all public hospitals and make them eligible for heavily discounted medications. The new system also seeks to provide free care for children until the age of 18. Whether or not these features actually materialize remains to be seen, however.

Also in the works is a plan whereby all eligible workers will be issued credit card-like social security cards that they can swipe to provide hospitals and pharmacies with their insurance details. The Turkish government hopes that this measure will simplify record-keeping and streamline the payment process.

One policy that has remained constant in both the old system and the new reforms is the yeşil kart (green card) that allows the impoverished (defined as those without house, car, or income) access to free care. While foreigners are technically eligible for the program, it´s unlikely that any foreigner poor enough to be admitted would be allowed into Turkey in the first place.

Private care

Most foreigners opt for private care and insurance while living in Turkey. This is mostly due to the superior quality of the staff and care at private medical facilities, and, of course, the Turkish language barrier.

A note for EU citizens

While Turkey has made numerous concessions in hopes of courting EU member-nations, it does not yet provide the reciprocal health care EU citizens may have come to expect when travelling outside of their home countries.

Further reading

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