Your first stop for minor ailments if you're taken ill in Turkey is the chemist (drug store, pharmacy) or Eczane;
Turkish people often use these in place of general practitioners or primary care doctors and you’ll find them on most street corners. A pharmacist has the training to listen to your symptoms, diagnose and advise on treatment – he or she is often able to dispense drugs over the counter which are only available on prescription elsewhere. Should your pharmacist think you need to be seen by a doctor, they will recommend one for you.
Many pharmacists speak good English and given the amount of pharmacies, if you are having trouble being understood simply move on to the next pharmacy till you find an English speaking pharmacist.
Health Clinics (polyclinic) also provide a GP equivalent service, these clinics can also usually provide X-ray and other facilities. Doctors here also have diagnostic tools at their disposal that may save you a trip to a hospital, performing the likes of injections and ultrasounds in the clinic, for instance.
As with all trips abroad, travel insurance is important. While Turkish healthcare is significantly cheaper than in the US or many European countries, treatment costs can still add up. The quality of care in state hospitals is also significantly poorer than their private counterparts. It is worth checking your insurance policy, many private doctors will expect payment in cash.
Should you need a hospital, the number of private facilities has grown significantly over the past decade, more developed in the west of the country than in the east. Compared to state hospitals where staff are unlikely to speak English, most private hospitals will have English speaking administration staff, some even have a dedicated "foreigners office" (Yabanci Subesi) that will guide and advise you. Take your insurance papers and they will call your insurance company and check what coverage you have and are entitled to before you have to pay out to see a doctor. Most Doctors in private hospitals can also speak English and have trained in the US or Europe.
At the time of writing a typical private doctors appointment is a flat fee of around 125 TL ($50), any further tests, scans or medicine will be extra but, again, the admin team will check with your insurer after your doctors visit to find out what you are covered for and claim for costs if necessary.
For non-emergency cases you can usually get an appointment within hours (if not immediately) but you may have to come back or be prepared to wait, waiting times at private hospitals can be lengthy in busy tourist resorts so be prepared for a wait, if you need emergency help then you can go into the equivalent of A&E (Accident and Emergency) and get seen faster, in real emergency cases, as elsewhere in the world please call the emergency services (112).
If you need emergency dental treatment, it is much cheaper than in Europe or the States. A replacement filling, for instance, may cost you just under $50 or £40. Standards of dental care vary however, so try to find a recommendation from a friend or other expats. Your travel insurance will not usually cover you for anything other than emergency dental treatment. Look for the diş hekimleri signs (Dental Surgery).
You can take a risk and pay as you go for healthcare in Turkey, but the majority of those living full time in Turkey take out an insurance policy. There are various levels of cover, but the most basic will cover for a limited number of doctor’s appointments and hospital treatment. Other levels of cover can include covering the cost of prescription medicines and even services such as physiotherapy, outpatient care and home assistance for the elderly or infirm.
Naturally, the more comprehensive your policy, the more it will cost. British and international insurers will all offer quotes for cover in Turkey, but you might just be better off taking out insurance with a local Turkish insurer. Just ensure there is no period that you will have to wait before you can be covered, that any pre-existing conditions are taken into consideration and that the insurance company is substantial, backed by a large financial institution, is reputable, has been in business for a long time and isn’t likely to disappear on you if you have to make a large claim!
BRITISH EXPATS FORFEIT NHS TREATMENT RIGHTS
If you have been out of the UK for more than 6 months you are officialy NOT entitled to free NHS care if you return to the UK, the official rules and the interpretation of them vary around the UK but the law states that regardless of the amount of National Insurnace paid and for how long if you are "non-resident" in the UK you have to pay for NHS healthcare.
The FCO have just updated the rules and laws on this, click here for more information from the FCO.
Types of Hospitals in Turkey
More than 50% of the doctors in Turkey are specialists and 40% of them work in the public sector.
1. Public Hospitals
a) State Hospitals (Devlet Hastanesi)
Members of the Retirement Trust, SGK (state Insurance) and Bag-Kur and their families can utilize these hospitals.
b) Social Insurance Board Hospitals
Members of this board are employed contributors, who along with their families, benefit from this scheme.
2. University Hospitals
These are possibly the hospitals of the highest standard in Turkey. Patients are usually transferred here by another hospital or any direct private patient provided that the services received are paid for.
3. Hospitals of State Economic Enterprises
These hospitals belong to state enterprises such as PTT (Post, Telephone & Telegram), DDY (State Railways) or are akin to various professions such as Military hospitals, Teachers' hospitals and Police hospitals. The facilities of these hospitals are used by members of the given professions and their families.
4. Private Hospitals
These widely vary in standard and are generally found in the major cities where the income levels of some people enable them to afford private medical care. Some of these private hospitals are internationally recognized for their high standards.
Health concerns in Turkey: