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Turkey Government Health Insurance Plan (SGK)


Ken Grubb

If you've been living in Turkey for at least one year with a residence permit, you can enroll in Turkey's Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Institution) Genel Sağlık Sigortası (General Health Insurance Plan). Often called "SGK Insurance," this is Turkey's comprehensive national health insurance plan.

You can join the SGK plan at any age and have insurance coverage for the rest of your life. While SGK doesn't cover chronic, pre-existing conditions you already have when you join, it will cover them, continuously, if you develop one or more chronic conditions after you've joined the plan.

Free Treatment at State Hospitals

After you've successfully enrolled in the SGK plan, you'll receive free medical treatment at any state hospital, for practically any medical condition. There's no card involved—show your residence permit when you go to the hospital and, with your yabancı kimlik numarası (foreigner identification number which is printed on the card), and the hospital will bill SGK directly.

Treatment at Private Hospitals

Many private hospitals also accept SGK insurance. While they're more expensive than state hospitals, you can use your SGK insurance to cover much of the bill, then pay the rest out-of-pocket. If you also have an insurance policy from your home country, which covers you in Turkey, you may be able to send the unpaid part of the bill to your home country health insurance provider for reimbursement. Check with your home country insurance company for details.

Turkey's private health insurance companies also offer an SGK supplemental plan you can use to cover out-of-pocket costs that SGK doesn't pay.

To learn about these supplemental policies, contact Selma Akdeniz of Mertsel Insurance using our health insurance inquiry form.

Eligibility

To join the SGK plan, you must have lived in Turkey, with a residence permit, for at least one year.

Required Documents

You'll need the following:

  • Your current residence permit card, with an expiration date at least 30 days after the date you enroll in the SGK plan
  • Your previous residence permit card if the start date of your current residence permit is less than one year ago, to prove you've been living in Turkey for at least one year
  • A photocopy of the front and back of both residence permit cards.

They may ask you to get a health report from a state or private hospital.

Learn how to get a health report.

Insider Tip: Even they don't ask for a health check, it's a good idea to get one anyway. If you later develop a chronic health problem, and SGK doesn't want to pay because they think the condition existed before you joined, the health report will help you prove you didn't have the condition when you joined the plan.

Coverage for Your Family

Your policy will also cover your spouse and children at no additional cost. An SGK policy for a single person and a policy for a family costs the same.

Required Documents for Your Spouse

To get coverage for your spouse, take your Turkish marriage certificate (International Family Book) to the SGK office with both of your residence permits (or work and residence permit if you have a work permit). If you have a foreign marriage certificate, you must have it internationally legalized with an apostille, then have the marriage license and the apostille translated into Turkish by a sworn translator.

Learn how to get a copy of a Turkish marriage certificate.

Learn how to get a copy of a foreign marriage certificate and have it legalized and translated.

Required Documents for Your Child

To get coverage for your children, take your child's Turkish birth certificate or a foreign birth certificate, which has been internationally legalized and translated, to the SGK office.

Learn how to get a copy of a Turkish birth certificate.

Learn how to get a copy of a foreign birth certificate and have it legalized and translated.

Enrolling in SGK While Extending Your Residence Permit

When you first enroll for SGK insurance, you'll experience what seems to be a dilemma. Let's say you're completing your first year of residence in Turkey. You're about to apply for an extension of your residence permit, and you want to join the SGK plan and use that as your health insurance coverage. But there's a problem. Your current residence permit only has, say, another month left before it expires. Here's how to handle it:

Provisional Enrollment in the SGK Plan Before You Get Your Residence Permit

When you go to the SGK and enroll, you'll at first be "provisionally enrolled." The SGK will give you a Provizyon Sorgulama Cevap Belgesi (Provision Inquiry Reply Document). This document proves your enrollment in the SGK plan. You'll include that document in your residence permit application package.

Permanent Enrollment in the SGK Plan After You Get Your Residence Permit

Later, when you get your residence permit card, take it to the SGK office and they'll formally enroll you in the SGK program, and set the coverage expiration date to match the expiration date of your residence permit.

Visit the SGK Office Every Time You Extend Your Residence Permit

Your SGK insurance coverage will be suspended whenever your residence permit expires.  So whenever you get a new residence permit, go to the SGK office with your new residence permit so they can extend the end date of your SGK coverage.

Reinstatement and Reimbursement for Medical Bills if SGK is Suspended

Reinstatement

If you're renewing your residence permit and it expires before your new one arrives, your SGK coverage will have been suspended as of the last date of validity of your previous residence permit. To get reinstated, go to the SGK office and show them your new card. They'll reactivate your account and set the end date of your coverage to match the expiration date of your new residence permit.

In some provinces, the SGK will accept the İkamet İzni Müracaat Belgesi (Residence Permit Application Document) that the immigration specialist will give you during your residence permit application interview. This document serves as a temporary residence permit until your residence permit card arrives in the mail. You'll have to check with your local SGK office to see if they'll reinstate your coverage with this document.

Refunds for Treatment While SGK is Suspended

If you receive medical treatment during a period when your SGK coverage is suspended, you'll have to pay for it with your own money. After your SGK coverage is reinstated, take the bills back to the hospital along with your residence permit card. The hospital will bill SGK for your previous treatment and receive payment from them, then give you a refund.

The SGK Monthly Premium

The monthly premium for 2021 is ₺858.60. It increases every year. It is also means-tested, so if you're unable to afford the premiums, visit your local SGK office to see if you can get a lower premium.

Maintaining Your Enrollment

You must also keep up with your monthly payments. If you miss any, you'll have to make the missed payments along with your current month's payment. You can pay your SGK premiums at any PTT (Turkish post office), or online using the e-Devlet website.

Learn how to pay your SGK premiums using e-Devlet.

You can also make payments automatically from your bank account. As of this writing, only the state-owned banks, such as Ziraat Bank and Halk Bank, offer this service.

Quitting the SGK Insurance Plan

Once you enroll in the SGK plan, your coverage will continue for life. You can't quit unless you're permanently leaving Turkey or switching to a Turkish private health insurance policy. You'll need to go to the SGK office to disenroll.

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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