Last Updated on by Lohanna Reis
Are you wondering what it would be like to move to Turkey and totally change your life? Are you researching how to have good health coverage in the country? Here you can find out everything you need to ensure your safety in case of medical emergencies! Continue reading!
There are several things you need to do before moving to another country – have a stay to settle down, look for jobs, understand the bureaucracies, buy your tickets, go after learning the new language…
But one task that sometimes people don’t remember or don’t know they need is to secure their health insurance.
Turkey has a rich historical and cultural heritage that attracts many foreigners who want to move to a new country. According to a survey by HSBC Expat Explorer, the country is one of the best countries in the world for international workers.
Turkey is also known to be an ideal retirement country as it offers a good quality of life, a pleasant climate with sunny days in the summer, a healthy lifestyle, good cuisine, plus friendly locals.
But in addition to talking about your international health insurance options as an expatriate in Turkey, let’s first talk a little bit about how Turkey’s health system works, what is the difference between travel insurance and expat insurance, which is the coverage you will need, and more.
(And be sure to stay until the end of the article to learn more about the different types of visas you can use to start living, studying or working in the Euro-Asian country!)
How does the health system work in Turkey?
Turkey’s health system has been very successful with its well-educated doctors and English speakers. Not by chance, thousands of patients from all over the world go to the country to receive some medical service annually.
The costs of health services in Turkey are much cheaper compared to European neighbours. Many people prefer the country for specialized surgeries, fertility treatments or hair transplants. Cosmetic surgery is also very popular in Turkey.
Overall, the health system in Turkey is getting better every day and medical tourism is on the rise.
Turkey offers public and private health services and the Ministry of Health, universities and the private sector provide care.
Expatriates living in Turkey can seek healthcare in two ways: universal health insurance and private health insurance.
Unfortunately, the European Health Insurance Card is not accepted in the country, but health insurance is mandatory. Therefore, you will need to hire health insurance to get the residence or work permits.
Universal Health Insurance
This modality covers most health problems, such as emergencies, pregnancy and diseases. The Social Security Institution (SGK) deals with general health care in the country. To achieve this, you will need to contact a social security center near you. If you register, you will also get discounts in private hospitals.
Treatment services covered by SGK:
- Hospital and outpatient services
- Accidents and occupational diseases
- Pregnancy, birth and related expenses
- Discounts in hospitals and private clinics, etc
- Infectious diseases
- Preventive health services
- Treatment costs of foreigners and their dependents, except for chronic diseases
Private Health Insurance
You can hire private health insurance in Turkey by paying a monthly fee to an insurance company. As you can imagine, private insurance has more benefits than the public. In private hospitals the waiting time to be attended is shorter and the quality of care higher. Another positive point is to find English-speaking doctors more easily.
Treatment services covered by private insurance:
- Costs of medical examination
- Costs for diagnostic tests
- Medication costs
- Hospital services (operation, anesthesia, medication, laboratory, radiology, etc.)
- Room, bed, meal and accompanying expenses during hospitalization
- Transplantation of cornea, kidney, pancreas, liver, heart, lung
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, dialysis
- Diagnosis of biochemical, microbiological, pathological, radiological and imaging tests during hospitalization
- Costs of artificial limbs in case of loss of limbs due to an accident or illness
- Postoperative physiotherapy
- Medical treatments for less than 24 hours (food poisoning, simple burn treatments)
- Treatments in intensive care
- Therapies related to teeth and nose caused by a traffic accident
Benefits may vary by insurance company. Be sure to collect detailed information before choosing your plan.
Do expats need health insurance in Turkey?
Simply put: yes! Healthcare in Turkey is mandatory for expats to have a resident visa or work permit.
So, it is important that you ensure with one of the coverage that I selected in the list below 🙂
But beyond mandatory, an international health plan allows more peace of mind for you. Especially being in a new country, different from yours, with laws, structures and a language you may not know, and unpredictable health costs.
Therefore, having an international health insurance coverage will give you the assurance that you are protected in any emergency or unexpected situation. In addition, there are several other benefits that you can have with an international plan (as I will say in the next question).
As an immigrant in Turkey, should you get an international health plan as recommended in the list below? Or should you get a national plan?
So, this is a choice that will depend entirely on you, since only you know your specific medical needs, the specific coverage you will need in your insurance, the duration of your stay in Turkey and the options available in the national plans.
An international health insurance plan must meet your coverage requirements in the country. If you choose to get an international plan, be sure to check with the embassies of the Turkish government to find out if there is and what is the minimum coverage required for an insurance.
I have never lived in Turkey, so I do not know enough about the national plans that may be available and therefore I cannot talk much about them.
With that in mind, below are some of the reasons you might want to choose an international health insurance plan instead of using public coverage:
- Compared to the costs you may have, international health insurance may have lower monthly fees;
- International health insurance may be easier to use if your stay is short in Turkey, as you can choose exactly how long you want your plan to be;
- International health insurance has greater flexibility as you can cancel or extend at any time;
- International health insurance offers coverage in other countries, not just in Turkey (so they are “international” health insurance).
Who do these international health insurance policies cover?
The health insurance companies I have listed below are for the following citizens living in Turkey as expatriates, immigrants, workers, or even students:
- Citizens of the European Union (Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Belgian, Swedish)
- British (English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish)
- New Zealanders
- And for citizens of almost any other country
In addition to expatriates/immigrants residing in Turkey, these companies also operate for residents living in:
- the United States;
- Europe (European Union and United Kingdom);
- And for expats living in almost any other country in the world.
Overall, as they are plans and international companies, they can be used by virtually anyone anywhere, since they have worldwide coverage!
Why can’t I get travel insurance when I move to Turkey? What is the difference between travel insurance and expat insurance?
Travel insurance is important and necessary for any trip, as it will not only cover problems you may experience in case of emergencies and unexpected medical problems, but also for problems with travel, such as lost baggage or flight cancellation.
It is important to know that travel insurance is not ideal for immigrants. Although it is possible to have travel insurance for longer periods, it is only for travelers with temporary stays in a country. Travel insurance covers are not valid for someone who will stay in another country for the long term.
In addition, travel insurance will not meet your health insurance coverage required by law to live in Turkey.
So, you’ll really want to choose an insurance plan that specifically covers expats. And that is exactly what I will help you with the list below.
What are the 7 best health insurance for expatriates and immigrants in Turkey?
I know it’s stressful to find the right insurance plan. With that in mind, take a look at the company comparison table I recommend below. So you can quickly see what are the pros and cons of each company and make the best choice for you!
After the table, I will make a longer description of each of the companies, their plans, main benefits and more!
So the biggest advice I can give is to quickly quote each of the companies on this list before making your decision. It may take a while, but at the end of the day, you can save a lot of money!
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
Note: This article and table were created with information that was accurate at the time of its publishing. This information is subject to changes and updates.
First, Cigna. It is a company founded in the United States but has a large role in Europe. It’s a great choice when it comes to international health insurance.
With more than 60 years in this area in the market, Cigna has great recognition because of its insurance and worldwide they have more than 170 million customers. My partner, Nikki, actually purchased a health plan from Cigna to fulfill the validation requirements of her residence card in Sweden.
Cigna is a company with high diversity of plans for you to choose, including specific plans for expatriates (and that work great if you are moving to Turkey! ), in addition to individual and family plans).
There are individual or family plans for you who are moving to Turkey. One advantage of Cigna’s plans is that you have the possibility to add benefits to your plan according to your specific needs and the type of medical care you need to cover.
You can choose between the Silver, Platinum or Gold plan, which has coverage in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.
If you are looking for a cheaper insurance plan for Turkey, a great option is the Cigna Close Care plan. This plan is particularly the most affordable that Cigna has, because the coverage is only for its country of origin and the country where it intends to reside (Turkey in this case).
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- Service available 24 hours, every day of the week
- Flexibility to change plans tailored to your needs
- Has coverage for COVID-19 and PCR testing
- You do not need to register to make a quote
- It has a digital system to find hospitals and clinics with care close to your location
- Cigna, for the most part, pays healthcare providers directly, without the need for a refund system
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- Some plans do not cover motherhood
Another company with great recognition in the area of international insurance is IMG. It has over 25 years of experience and 3 subsidiaries around the world.
IMG has several types of plans for your choice, both for individual profiles or entire families. They also have a variety of plans specific to types of travelers, such as expats. You will see that they have the possibility of plans with long stays of 1 year or more, but also short-term travel plans.
Their website is intuitive and easy to navigate, with filters for dates, plan duration, destination and more that make your search easier. In addition to these filters, you can add your personal details like age and specific needs for the best coverage.
Thus, IMG will provide a detailed quotation that allows a comparison of plan and coverage options for you to have freedom and choose what is best.
Only pay attention to the details of each plan, as some do not have coverage for all age groups and not all of your plans cover the needs of Covid-19.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- You have the choice of Portuguese on the site
- Customer service 24 hours, 7 days a week
- Flexibility in profiles and plans
- Availability of more than 17,000 clinicians to support
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Not covered by COVID-19 depending on plan
- No coverage for 75+ year olds
GeoBlue has been offering insurance plans with international health coverage for more than 20 years.
But GeoBlue only allows insurance for citizens and residents of the United States. So if you’re not an American citizen or resident moving to Turkey, you can skip that option.
GeoBlue has health plans for different traveler profiles, including immigrants. Xplorer Essential is the plan I highly recommend, as it is made for long-term stays with unlimited coverage.
If you’re looking for a shorter plan, try the Voyager program. Just fill out a form or contact a broker to make a quote and receive more detailed information about the plans.
Benefits of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Has application with features such as telemedicine
- 24/7 customer service
- Some plans have coverage for pre-existing conditions
- All plans have unlimited coverage
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Only available to US residents or US citizens
- Low flexibility of programs
- You need to submit a form or contact a broker for information or budget plans
4. Aetna (acquired by AllianzCare)
Aetna is an award winner and leader in the field of international insurance. If you are seeking security and credibility for your insurance choice prior to your move to Turkey, Aetna is a good company to consider.
Although they do not have a diversity of plans, they have flexibility and allow you to add complementary coverage (such as dental care). Plans include coverage of up to $5 million, depending on the cases.
You can choose between family or individual plans, and may include coverage for repatriation and medical evacuation.
As an expat, I recommend Aetna Pioneer. It has basic coverage of up to $1.75 million. Just fill out a short form on the website itself to see an exact quote and get detailed information about the policies available.
Advantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- Cover the maternity hospital
- Has application with all the information you need and easy location of services and providers
- Short, medium and long travel plans
- Service 24h, 7 days a week
- Pre-trip assistance to help with questions, such as vaccinations and regular medications
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- Low diversity of plans
- Above average price compared to other companies on this list
SafetyWing is one of the popular and recognized companies in insurance for digital nomads, as it offers specific health insurance plans for remote workers and companies, expatriates and digital nomads.
One of the advantages of SafetyWing is that its policies are a little more accessible and easier to understand than the others in the market. They also cover children from 2 to 10 years of age for free if their parents close a plan.
Each plan has a specific cost that depends on age. The cheapest plan does not cover pre-existing conditions, but has coverage of up to $250,000. But you also have the freedom to add pre-existing condition coverage to the part if you need to.
What I like most about SafetyWing is that the company offers 30 days of free coverage in your home country every 90 days you use abroad, like in Turkey.
Benefits of an international health insurance plan with SafetyWing:
- Modern website with easy access to information and intuitive
- Customer service 24 hours, every day of the week
- 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days of coverage abroad
- It is covered by COVID-19 and the treatment recommended by specialist doctors
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with the Safety Wing:
- The plans are not as complete and tend to have less overall coverage than some of the other options on this list;
- Site prices do not include taxes and fees
Global Underwriters is another company with great recognition and high popularity when it comes to insurance. They have programs that serve immigrants, students, digital nomads and expatriates with the goal of starting a life elsewhere in the world.
For someone who is moving to Turkey, I recommend the Diplomat Long Term or the Diplomat International Plan. Both have full coverage and generally include everything an expat might need in their new home.
Benefits of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwriters:
- Up to $1 million in medical coverage in the two plans mentioned above, and $1 million in coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment
- Customer support every day of the week, 24 hours a day
- The plans I mentioned have emergency dental coverage, medical evacuations and repatriation of remains
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwritres:
- Diplomat Long Term does not secure travelers in Iran, Afghanistan and Cuba
- The International Diplomat is not covered by COVID-19
- Global Underwriters does not serve residents of Australia, Iran, South Dakota, Maryland and New York
Foyer Global Health is renowned for international health insurance plans for travelers, expats, digital nomads and immigrants.
It is a company with a great diversity of plans, probably the largest you can find in the market, besides being a reliable company (it is part of the largest European Foyer Group).
Benefits of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- All plans have coverage for surgeries, consultations and dental treatments
- Online service by email or phone 24/7
- Offer support service for pre-trip preparation for vaccinations and first aid kit preparation
- coverage available for evacuation and repatriation
Disadvantages of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- Coverage limits are not clear.
- It is not supported in Portuguese, only in English, French and German.
Types of Turkish Visa
Below are the types of visas most used by new immigrants at entry for residence in Turkey
The most common visas offered by the Turkish government are:
- Temporary Work Permit
- Permanent Work Permit
- Independent Work Permit
- Citizenship by purchase of real estate and other investments
- Temporary Work Permit can only be requested by employers on behalf of employees. The place of validity can be comprehensive or limited by the government in terms of city and geographical area.
- The Permanent Work Permit can be granted to foreigners who legally reside continuously for eight years or who have six years of legal work in total.
- The Independent Work Permit can be granted to foreigners who legally reside continuously for five years.
- Turkish citizenship can be obtained by buying a property worth $250,000 or more, as well as making other investments worth at least $500,000.
Here are the 7 best health insurance companies for expats and immigrants moving to Turkey:
- Aetna (Allianz)
- Global Underwriters
- Foyer Global Health
In the end…
Starting a life in the land of dreams can be a complicated decision… I hope this article will help you answer many of your questions and facilitate this process! If you still have any questions about how to get health insurance for your move to Turkey (or about moving abroad in general), tell me in the comment area below and I will answer you!
Planning your next trip?