Healthcare is people’s top concern when moving to or visiting a new country. There are many questions that arise in everyone’s mind – Are the doctors experienced enough? How much does it cost? What would be the hygiene status of clinics and hospitals? Would the hospitals use cleaned equipment? Would the medical staff understand my language or what kind of problem I am facing?
Talking about healthcare in any country, there is a noticeable variation in the quality of healthcare that differs from place to place such as rural areas and the city, etc.
Healthcare in Turkey
Coming on to Turkey, it is one of the world’s first choice for medical destinations because of the availability of top-notch medical services. Other than this, medical tourists can also leverage thermals spas and wellness services that have been incorporated by five-star hotels into their packages. Like most countries, healthcare in Turkey is a blend of public and private health services.
According to data, there were 27,954 medical institutions in Turkey in 2016 and 1.7 doctors for every 1,000 people as per data collected in 2017.
What to do in case of a medical emergency in Turkey?
Before going to or settling in another country, it is imperative to have a list of contact numbers in case of any emergency such as police helpline, ambulance, etc. In case of any medical emergency in Turkey, dial 112 for an ambulance. The crew will immediately work out your condition along with location and take you to the nearest public or private healthcare center. If the ambulance takes longer than expected which could be due to the farther location, it is better to take a taxi instead.
If you want to get treated in a private hospital, they will do as said and will bill the hospital. However, the crew always take tourists, especially foreigners, to the private hospital as they assume the tourists are not entitled to leverage the facilities of the state healthcare system.
On your arrival at the hospital, you will be asked to show any of your entitlement to state-funded healthcare. You will be treated as a private patient until you show any required proof. The hospital also asks for a deposit or credit card imprint. However, this does not happen if the case is quite critical. In such cases, the patient’s treatment is a priority.
In case of minor emergencies, there is a Turkish pharmacy, named Eczane around the corner of almost every street. These pharmacies provide medical solutions far better than the public hospital and fairly less expensive than a private doctor. These pharmacies have a green cross mark which is quite flashing and vibrant.
What is the status of Turkey’s healthcare system?
Turkey is currently finding its way to join hands with the European Union in the near future. For this alignment, both government and private healthcare institutions are making efforts to meet international standards in terms of quality and quantity. The inspections are continuously conducted by the Turkish Ministry of Health to check these criteria. The Turkish Ministry of Health along with Turkish Medical Associations has set the local standards and guidelines that are being followed by hospitals, clinics, medical facilities, doctors and nursing staff.
Around 55 percent of Turkey’s 1,200 hospitals are functioned by the Turkish Ministry of Health, while the rest are being owned by universities, private companies and well-known foreign entities. There are many hospitals that are accredited with international accreditation including the JCI (Joint Commission International), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the JACHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) along with affiliations with Western medical groups and facilities.
Most of the medical staff, including doctors and nurses, is certified by the Turkish Medical Association along with the associations as per their specializations, including the Turkish Dental Association, Turkish Plastic Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery Society, Turkish Society of Cardiovascular Surgery and other associations.
Turkey has universal health care under its Universal Health Insurance system. In this system, residents registered with the Social Security Institution (SGK) receive free medical treatment but only in hospitals that come under SGK.
Foreigners who are legally employed in Turkey and contributing to the social security system or have Turkish spouse are eligible to receive medical treatment under SGK.
Like any other country, the quality of private healthcare in Turkey is quite remarkable as it offers shorter waiting times and qualitative health services as compared to the state system. Istanbul and Ankara are well-known medical destinations and have hospitals offering high-quality patient care. Medical expertise, qualitative private healthcare infrastructure, easily accessible, convenient location have made Turkey one of the top destinations for medical tourism. People from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Baltic states prefer Turkey for their medical treatment.
Contribution of Hospitals for Medical Tourism in Turkey
Turkey has more than 50 JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals. Most of them are in Istanbul, Bursa, Antalya, Izmir, Kocaeli, and Adana. This is the highest number of accreditations any country has ever received. Some of the hospitals have partnerships with US top medical providers such as the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medicine amongst others.
Hospitals in Turkey are well-equipped with advanced, latest medical technologies supervised by board-certified staff with more than 35 percent of physicians trained in Western countries.
What are the common medical treatments done in Turkey?
Compared to EU and US countries, the cost of medical treatments is 50-60% less in Turkey. For instance, the angioplasty procedure costs around $48,000 in the United States which is $5,000 in Turkey. The cost of medical treatment in Turkey is also cheaper than other countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Turkey offers a wide range of medical procedures and services to foreign patients such as:
Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery
Obesity and Bariatric Surgery (Weight Loss Surgery)
Organ Transplantations such as Liver, Heart
Bone Marrow Transplantations
General and Aesthetic Dentistry
IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) Treatment
Cost in United Kingdom
Cost in Turkey
LASIK Eye Surgery
From the above table, it is concluded that medical tourists can save up to 50-60% on getting treated in Turkey as compared to other western countries such as the UK, the US, Europe, etc.
What are the pros and cons of medical tourism in Turkey?
Revenue: Turkey is currently earning annual revenue of $4 billion from the health tourism industry. According to a survey, the number of medical tourists will increase to 2 million patients and the revenues to $20 billion by 2023.
International Accredited Hospitals: Turkey has the highest number of JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals. It has 50 JCI accredited hospitals, located in Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Bursa, Kocaeli and Adana. These hospitals provide healthcare facilities meeting international standards equivalent to EU countries. Also, some hospitals have affiliations with top institutions such as Johns Hopkins Institute, Harvard Medical Center, etc.
Shorter Waiting Times: The average waiting time for complicated surgical procedures is longer in western countries as compared to the EU and the US. For instance, if the average waiting time for knee surgery in the EU and the US is 18 months, it takes only two weeks in Turkey to get the surgical treatment done.
Growth Rate: According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the number of foreign tourists has increased to 30 percent over the last decade. This has made Turkey one of the top 10 medical destinations in 2018.
Medical Vacations: Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, offers many destinations for sight-seeing including Bosphorus Cruise, Topkapi Palace, Galata Tower and many more. Hence, this makes people explore Turkey along with their surgical treatment.
Competitive Prices: As discussed earlier, the average cost of medical treatment is 50-60 percent lesser as compared to other western countries such as the EU, the UK, the US, Italy, Austria, Ireland and more.
Turkish Culture and Hospitality: Turkey has been a gateway between the East and West. The warmth hospitality of Turkish people is well-known.
Turkish Airlines: Turkey is an easily accessible country due to the availability of all airlines coming to and going from Turkey. Amongst all, Turkish airlines are majorly operated in Turkey. More than 300 flights arrive at and from Turkey’s five major international airports on a daily basis.
Like any other country, Turkey’s medical tourism also has cons and they are:
Language Deficiency: As English is the international language spoken, medical personnel in Turkish hospitals lacks in their English conversational skills.
Medical Records & Documentation: There are some hospitals that do not keep documented records issued to medical tourists.
What healthcare preparations to be done before coming to Turkey?
This section is applicable to people moving to Turkey or planning to vacation in Turkey. However, if you’re planning to visit Turkey for medical treatment, you should carry along the following documents:
Get a copy of your medical records from your medical doctor and translate it in the Turkish language.
Ask your medical consultant to prepare a list of prescribed medicines along with proper pharmaceutical names. In case your doctor doesn’t do this, there are private doctors who will help out.
In case you’re settling in Turkey, get all your prescribed medicines for at least three to six months and if you’re going for vacationing in Turkey, take proper dose along so that you don’t skip any dose.
Cover your health insurance, whether you’re going as a tourist or settling down over there.
To enter Turkey, a valid passport and a corresponding visa is required. Depending on the country of destination, the visa requirements may differ which can also be obtained from the Turkish consulates in the country of origin. For example, Spanish passport holders have to get an electronic visa to enter Turkey, while South American countries do not require any visa to enter Turkey for up to 90 days. For more visa requirements, information can be found on the
For more information on Visa Policy of Turkey, click here.
What leisure activities to do in Turkey?
Turkey has a lot of offer which varies according to the season and geographical location you choose for your surgical treatment. But you will find interesting activities to do throughout the year. Turkey is best known for its rich culture that connects the east with west, ancient monuments, architecture, beaches and more.
Most medical tourists choose Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya which are Turkey’s famous tourist destinations along with the availability of high-quality hospitals and experienced medical staff.
The medical tourism industry is a growing industry in Turkey which will rise at a faster rate in the upcoming years. It has been possible due to experienced, board-certified medical staff, well-equipped hospitals, modern infrastructure and dedicated nursing staff.