The medical facts for home owners in Turkey

Whether they are planning to live permanently, or only spend lengthy holidays in the country, medical care is top of the list of concerns for many British property buyers in Turkey.

However, there is no reason to worry, with many people actually travelling to the country from Britain to take advantage of the high quality health services on offer.

Medical care in medical centres and hospital in Turkey is provided by board-certified physicians, many of who have previously trained in top U.S. or European medical programs.

"The quality of care is equal, and in many cases far superior, to that available in the UK. Most doctors speak English fluently, with private hospitals in the tourist areas having many English speaking staff," says Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey property guide.

The cost of medical care is lower than in the UK due to the lower cost of living, lower staff and doctor's fees and cheaper medication. In addition, the cost of medical care is lower because there is significantly less administration and paperwork. The vast majority of private patients in Turkey pay the doctor or medical centre directly. Unlike the UK, there is no administrative paperwork associated with insurance claims or approval of care for private patients in these countries.

The cost of medication and treatment, including dentistry, is typically about half the price of the UK and "medical tourism" is a growing trend with patients travelling from the UK and Western Europe in increasing numbers for dentistry, fertility treatment, cosmetic surgery and other surgical and medical treatments.

There are large private hospitals with excellent facilities in the following resorts/towns: Istanbul, Izmir, Kusadasi, Bodrum, Marmaris, Mugla, Fethiye, Antalya and Alanya. Other resorts will have state hospitals, private clinics and doctors, which provide emergency care, and treatment for minor injuries and routine ailments.

Chemists, eczane in Turkish, are also trained to treat the most common ailments and dispense medicine, many of which are available over the counter without a prescription. 

Despite the low cost of high-quality private medical care in Turkey visitors and longer-term residents are advised to take out medical insurance. Health cover will usually form part of a travel insurance package. If you travel regularly then it is more cost effective to get an annual policy.

For permanent or long-term residents medical insurance can be arranged through an international insurer or broker specialising in expatriate policies, or through a Turkish insurance company.

International policies typically offer 3 levels of cover, which will include in-patient/day care and emergency repatriation to the UK, along with out-patient care, specialist treatment, dentistry and maternity care, depending on the level of cover.

Annual premiums for a 40 year-old couple will typically range from £1,320-£4,560 depending on the level of cover and the insurer.

Medical cover through a Turkish insurance company is cheaper and will typically cover all hospital treatment and a limited number of doctor's consultations each year. Out patient care and medication can also be included for a higher premium. Emergency repatriation to the UK will be extra.

Annual premiums for a 40 year-old and a 60 year-old couple start from £750 and £1,000 respectively. Premiums can generally be paid in 5 or 6 monthly instalments.

It is important to remember that under current regulations British citizens living outside Britain for more than 3 months are no longer eligible for free NHS treatment. For this reason many people relocating to Turkey keep a base in the UK which they use for part of the year; or simply retain a postal address at a friend or relative's address.