Healthcare in Turkey has improved drastically from what it once was. Turkey has advanced as the regional core for medical tourism and healthcare services. Currently recognised as a focused healthcare destination with superior technological advances, Turkey treats thousands of foreign patients from the European bordering countries every month. Turkey has continued pursuing medical superiority and solid expertise to create a foundation in creating quality care for patients. The healthcare system is striving to become a global competitor with other health service providers so it can not only reach excellence regionally but also globally.
The country is also an EU candidate which ensures the quality of care in the healthcare system. The country is always moving forward in the pursuit of achieving better healthcare it is accustomed to continuously advancing the quality of healthcare and pursuit of patient safety. If you are planning a trip, holiday or are coming to Turkey in search of medical treatment outside your own country there are some things you should know about the healthcare system and what it means for you as a foreign visitor.
In short, if you have to be sick, Turkey is a great place to be sick.
Turkish healthcare and medical system as a foreign national
The Ministry of Health is in charge of all health services in Turkey. Turkey is a strong competitor in healthcare when compared with other countries such as; the US, Germany, and England are a few. The current statistics show Turkey as a low cost health provider compared to these nations.
Here’s an excellent financial example. Let’s say you needed a heart bypass surgery:
- in the US it would cost around $129,750.00,
- in Germany it would cost $17,355.00,
- in England it would be $27,770.00.
- in Turkey a heart bypass surgery would cost you $11,375.00-15,000.00.
Now don’t be put off thinking the lower price means a lower level of quality, because the fact is Turkey is an emerging healthcare region approximately 60 internationally competitive medical faculties are located in Turkey and are training thousands of Turkish and foreign medical students. This training allows Turkey to reach certification standards for physicians which ensures successful medical results in a wide variety of fields. Almost every major pharmaceutical company such as, Pfizer, Glaxo-smith-Kline, Johnson & Johnson are already situated in Turkey alongside regional as well as some local manufacturers.
Going to Turkey for medical treatment?
Turkey is home to 375 private hospitals. In Turkey’s leading hospitals and dental clinics they offer a full-service attitude to international patients. If you are travelling to Turkey to be seen outside your own country’s medical facilities then here are a few key points to look at if you need to see a doctor or find one.
- Know your diagnosis and treatment needs, knowing this will help find a suitable doctor that will be able to accommodate your needs.
- After finding a physician the most important thing to do is research them. Spend time looking them up and once you have chosen a candidate
- call them and talk with them directly or have your health travel planning agency help in contacting them.
- Get things in writing such as cost, opinions and recommendations. The more you have in writing the less likely you will have a misunderstanding.
- Always insist on using a language you can understand it is not best to try and brush up on your Turkish language skills when trying to communicate your medical needs. Luckily for native English speakers, in most Turkish medical facilities English is spoken so there should be no miscommunication.
Don’t try to plan your trip with an exact time frame in mind. If you are delayed because of a medical need or a needed extra few days of recovery it can cost a lot of money with the airlines and other accommodations it is best to try to figure one extra day to every five days you are spending. While you are in the hospital most offer certain accommodations or rooms by your needs. There are adjustable beds, internet connections, TV, safe boxes, nurse call buttons, and air conditioning in most rooms.
If you have a friend or family member travelling with you be sure to let your doctor know if they will be staying with you as well because there is only one patient guest allowed per single room and it must be approved by your doctor. There are special needs that you may request in most hospitals and should be directed to your nurse or the hospitals receptionist. They can usually accommodate your wishes or needs such as, worship, translator, and a daily newspaper.
Turkish pharmacies are a great source of medical help
If you are not suffering from a severe ailment or a hospital is not your cup o’ tea then Turkey has special pharmacies called Eczane you can usually find these on most street corners. The pharmacist has the proper training to listen to your complaints and make a diagnosis or recommendation and also prescribe treatment medication. If they believe you need to be seen by a hospital they will refer you to one. The pharmacist can also dispense medications over the counter to you that might elsewhere need a prescription from a doctor.
What to do in case of emergencies when in Turkey
Of course this will very much depend on type of emergency, however, for severe emergencies or accidents, make sure you call an ambulance. If you are staying at a resort or a hotel, just talk to your reception or if you can’t do that call out for help. You can be sure someone will call an ambulance.
The ambulance will take you straight to the accident & emergency department of the nearest state hospital. You will immediately be seen to and there will not be a fee for attending to an emergency. The fact that you are not a Turkish citizen will not make a difference, you will be treated all the same.
If you visit a private hospital in Turkey, then there will naturally be fees applicable. Compared to private hospitals in the UK and most of Euro zone countries, fees will be less than a half of what you would pay for hourly rates. Compared to Brazil, Russia and India (part of the BRICS countries), costs of medical facilities and drugs with the private health sector are again more favourable in Turkey.
Should you take out private health insurance?
As a general rule state hospitals will attend to most emergencies without a fee and pretty promptly. Fees are applicable with the private health sector and if you are an ex-pat in Turkey, we would advise you to take out private healthcare with a leading insurer. Premiums payable are comparable to most EU countries if not slightly under and cover tends to be very comprehensive.