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Ken Grubb

If you're between the ages of 18 and 65 and applying for a residence permit in Turkey, you must have health insurance coverage that meets Turkish government standards.

Types of Health Insurance You Can Use in Turkey

Travel Insurance

While travel insurance is required for all visitors to Turkey, it can't be used for residence permit applications. So, you get travel insurance for your visit to Turkey using your visa, then buy a Turkish private health insurance policy when you're ready to apply for a residence permit.

Learn more about travel insurance.

Turkish Private Health Insurance Policies (Expat Insurance)

Most foreigners buy Turkish private health insurance policies which are specifically designed to meet the government's minimum coverage requirements for health insurance coverage. They're cheap, usually costing around ₺500 per year (approximate cost for 2021, the cost varies depending on personal factors, especially age). But first-year coverage is limited. That's because the insurance companies use the first year to screen out pre-existing, chronic conditions.

In the second year and the years after, you'll get more comprehensive coverage. And there's another drawback to these policies. If you're treated for a medical condition in any year of coverage, the next year's coverage (and coverage in the years after that) won't include that medical condition. The only way to get guaranteed, continuing coverage, without the policy eliminating medical problems every time you have one, is to get a more comprehensive (and expensive) private health insurance policy or join Turkey's national health insurance plan (see below).

All private health insurance policies are sold by the year. If you're applying for a two-year residence permit and needing two years of insurance coverage, most insurance companies can sell you two back-to-back one-year policies. After the first policy expires, the second one begins.

Comprehensive Private Health Insurance

Comprehensive private health insurance policies have greater coverage than those designed for residence permits. They can have as much coverage as you want, with whatever deductible and co-pay you want. You can even buy policies which exceed the coverage provided by Turkey's national health insurance plan, Genel Sağlık Sigorta (General Health Insurance) managed by the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Administration).

How to Buy Private Health Insurance

You can buy a policy by walking into an insurance company office with your passport and paying the premium. It's that simple, and it takes around 30-40 minutes. You can also buy a policy online and have it sent to your address, anywhere in Turkey.

If you want to buy residence permit insurance online from our community agent, Selma Akdeniz at Mertsel Insurance, you can get a free quote here:

Get a free quote for a Turkish health insurance policy.

Learn more about health insurance policies for residence permits.

Learn more about buying health insurance online.

Health Insurance from your Home Country

A health insurance policy issued by a foreign company won't be accepted with residence permit applications, unless the company is licensed in Turkey and has an office in Turkey. However, you can use your foreign policy to pay for any portion of your medical bills your Turkish insurance doesn't cover.

SGK Insurance

Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu Genel Sağlık Sigorta (Social Security Administration General Health Insurance, also called "SGK insurance") is Turkey's government-managed comprehensive national insurance plan. After you've lived in Turkey for one year, you can join this plan, then pay monthly premiums to stay enrolled.

With SGK insurance, one policy covers the primary insured person and their family, at no additional cost. So, if you're a single person you get a policy that covers only you, and if you're married with children, you get a policy that covers you and your entire family. Both policies will cost the same.

SGK insurance provides for free treatment in state hospitals for a wide range of conditions. There's no card involved, just present your residence permit and they'll use your identification number to see that you're covered by SGK.

With SGK insurance, you can also get discounted treatment in private hospitals. But you'll have to pay part of the bill out-of-pocket since treatment in private hospitals is more expensive. If you have insurance from your home country which covers you in Turkey, you can use that to help pay the additional amount.

You can join the SGK plan at any age. Pre-existing conditions are not covered, but if you develop a chronic condition after you enroll, it will be covered for as long as you remain enrolled in the plan.

Learn more about the SGK health insurance plan.

SGK Insurance Coverage Under Bilateral Agreements

If you're a citizen of a country which has a bilateral agreement with Turkey to provide free healthcare for each other's citizens, you can receive treatment in Turkey's state hospitals for free. But there's some paperwork involved before you can be covered.

First, you'll need a document from your country (the name or number of the document varies according to the country involved), which states that you're covered under your country's government health insurance plan. Take that document to an SGK office. The SGK office will give you a provizyon belgesi (provision document) which states you're entitled to health insurance coverage under SGK. Include this document in your residence permit application package to satisfy the health insurance requirement.

Learn more about health care coverage under bilateral agreements.

SGK Insurance for Employees

If you're working for a Turkish company, the company will arrange for your insurance coverage under SGK. The company will pay the premiums, and it'll be completely free for you.

Mertsel Health Insurance and Residence Permit Application Service

Mertsel Insurance provides residence permit application services and health insurance policies (among other services) for the Turkey Central community. Mertsel charges only according to what you need. You won't find a better price for the services they offer.

Within 24 hours after you send them all of the required information, Mertsel will:

  • Get you a tax number
  • Create your health insurance policy
  • Apply for and get your Residence Permit Registration Form
  • Set up your appointment at the immigration office and
  • Send you the documents for your application package.

You can get a free price quote from Mertsel according to your needs. Contact them by clicking below:

Ken Grubb, author.

As a special investigator for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and teacher for the University of Maryland, Ken Grubb has lived and worked in Turkey since 1997. He now lives in Antalya, where he researches and writes guides to help others live skillfully in Turkey.


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