Without a doubt, health insurance is the biggest concern for foreigners living in Turkey. We all like the reassurance and comfort of knowing that in an emergency or case of major illness, insurance will cover the cost of treatment.
Turkey has a national health insurance plan, managed by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu, (Social Security Administration, or SGK). Once you have legally resided in Turkey for at least one year, you can enroll.
If you are over 65 years old, you do not need to have health insurance to get a residence permit, unless you are applying for a long-term residence permit.
After you pay the first premium, you are covered. You will get an SGK health insurance ID card which you can present at any state hospital and be treated, without charge.
Some private hospitals also accept SGK insurance, but since treatment at private hospitals is more expensive than at state hospitals, there may be additional charges you will need to pay in cash, or have them covered by supplemental insurance that you can get from one of the Turkish insurance companies.
Holders pay a monthly premium which is 614 lira, and this is the same for married and single people. This amount also increases every year. Upon approval, you will receive a card to show when accessing medical and health care.
Some countries have a reciprocal agreement with Turkey ensuring citizens are already covered if they have paid premiums in their home country. The list includes but is not limited to France and Germany. The UK does not have a reciprocal agreement. SGK also does not cover pre-existing or current conditions like cancer or diabetes.
First-time Application for SGK Insurance
To start the process, visit your local SGK office to find out the exact details because the process differs from region to region.
Because enrollment in the SGK plan requires you to be a resident of Turkey, and becoming a resident of Turkey requires health insurance coverage, you will have to go back and forth between the SGK office and the foreigners’ bureau.
Foreign residents are eligible to apply for the SGK (Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu) system if they have lived in Turkey for one year. The coverage entitles holders to free treatment in Government Devlet hospitals, reduced payment for prescriptions and sometimes, discount at private institutions, subject to their distraction.