How Can You Access Health Services While Traveling In Turkey?

When traveling to Turkey, it’s important to know how to access health services in case of any medical emergencies or issues that may arise during your trip. This article will provide you with valuable information on how to access health services while traveling in Turkey, ensuring that you can receive the necessary medical care and assistance whenever and wherever you need it. From understanding the Turkish healthcare system and insurance coverage to finding reliable healthcare providers and pharmacies, this guide will help you navigate your way to quality healthcare services while enjoying your time exploring this beautiful country.

Public Healthcare System

The public healthcare system in Turkey offers medical services to all insured persons. Insured persons include Turkish citizens, foreigners with residence permits, and visitors from countries with bilateral healthcare agreements with Turkey. To access healthcare services in the public system, you need to present your insurance card or relevant identification documents. This system provides coverage for a wide range of medical services, including doctor consultations, hospital treatments, and medications.

Insurance Coverage

When utilizing the public healthcare system in Turkey, your insurance coverage will depend on your status as an insured person. Turkish citizens and residents with general health insurance have access to a comprehensive range of healthcare services at a low cost, or even for free in some cases. Visitors from countries with bilateral agreements with Turkey may have limited coverage and could be required to pay a portion of the expenses.

Healthcare Facilities

The public healthcare system in Turkey comprises a network of hospitals, clinics, and healthcare centers. These facilities are spread throughout the country, providing medical services to both urban and rural areas. The quality of healthcare facilities in the public sector varies, with major cities generally having more advanced medical facilities. However, even in remote regions, public healthcare centers exist to cater to the medical needs of the local population.

Private Healthcare System

In addition to the public healthcare system, Turkey also has a well-developed private healthcare system. Private hospitals and clinics offer a higher standard of care and a wider range of services compared to the public sector. These facilities often have state-of-the-art equipment and employ highly trained medical professionals. Private healthcare in Turkey is primarily funded through private insurance schemes, and patients without insurance may need to pay out-of-pocket for their treatment.

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Private Hospitals and Clinics

Private hospitals and clinics in Turkey can be found in major cities and tourist destinations. These facilities often cater to international patients and provide services in multiple languages. Private medical institutions may offer specialized treatments, such as cosmetic surgery or advanced medical procedures, making them a popular choice for medical tourists. It is important to note that the cost of medical services in the private sector is generally higher than in the public system.

Insurance Coverage

Private healthcare in Turkey is typically covered by private insurance plans. These plans offer different levels of coverage, including outpatient services, inpatient care, and specialized treatments. Before seeking treatment at a private hospital or clinic, it is essential to check if your insurance policy covers the specific services you require. Some insurance plans may require pre-authorization for certain treatments or have limitations on coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Quality of Care

Private healthcare facilities in Turkey are renowned for their high-quality care. They often invest in advanced technology and employ experienced medical professionals, ensuring efficient and effective treatments. The private sector also offers shorter waiting times compared to the public system, allowing patients to receive prompt medical attention. However, due to the higher cost associated with private hospitals and clinics, it is important to consider your budget and insurance coverage before seeking care in the private sector.

Emergency Services

Turkey has a well-established emergency services system to provide immediate medical assistance to those in need.

Emergency Hotline

In case of a medical emergency, you can dial 112 to reach the emergency hotline in Turkey. This number is toll-free and can be dialed from any phone. When you call, it is crucial to clearly explain your situation and provide your location for a prompt response.

Ambulance Services

The emergency hotline will dispatch an ambulance to your location if needed. Ambulance services in Turkey are staffed with trained medical professionals who can provide initial medical care while transporting you to the nearest suitable healthcare facility. It is important to note that ambulance services may incur a fee, especially if you are not an insured person in Turkey. Therefore, it is advisable to check your insurance coverage for emergency services.

Pharmacies and Medications

Pharmacies play a crucial role in providing medications and healthcare products to the public. In Turkey, pharmacies can be found in every city and most towns, making it easy to access medications during your travels.

Pharmacy Availability

Pharmacies in Turkey are generally open during regular business hours, including Saturdays. In major cities and tourist areas, some pharmacies may operate 24/7, ensuring that you can access essential medications at any time. However, it is recommended to check the specific opening hours of pharmacies in the area you are visiting, as they may vary.

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Prescription Medications

Prescription medications in Turkey can only be obtained with a valid prescription from a doctor. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you require a prescription medication during your stay. The doctor will assess your condition and provide a prescription that can be filled at a pharmacy. Remember to carry your prescription and related documents with you when purchasing medications.

Health Risks and Vaccinations

When traveling to Turkey, it is essential to be aware of common health risks and take necessary precautions. Vaccinations can help protect against certain diseases, ensuring a healthier and safer trip.

Common Health Risks

Turkey is generally a safe destination for travelers, but there are some health risks to be aware of. These may include occasional outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as influenza or measles. Mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile virus and Zika virus, can also pose a risk in certain regions during specific times of the year. Additionally, travelers should take precautions to prevent food and waterborne illnesses, such as travelers’ diarrhea.

Recommended Vaccinations

Before traveling to Turkey, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or travel medicine specialist to discuss the necessary vaccinations for your trip. Routine vaccines, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, and influenza, should be up to date. Additionally, depending on the specific region you plan to visit and the activities you will engage in, vaccines for hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies may be recommended.

Travel Insurance

Having travel insurance can provide additional peace of mind when it comes to your health while traveling in Turkey.

Coverage for Medical Expenses

Travel insurance typically covers medical expenses associated with unexpected illnesses or injuries during your trip. This may include doctor consultations, hospitalizations, prescription medications, and emergency medical treatments. However, it is important to carefully read your policy and understand the specific coverage and limitations before purchasing travel insurance.

Emergency Medical Evacuation

In certain cases, travel insurance may also cover emergency medical evacuation. This means that if you require specialized medical care that is not available locally, your insurance provider may arrange and cover the expenses for transporting you to a suitable medical facility. Emergency medical evacuation can be vital in critical situations, providing access to more advanced healthcare options.

Language Barriers

Overcoming language barriers is essential for effective communication with medical professionals and ensuring proper healthcare.

Translators and Interpretation Services

Some healthcare facilities in Turkey, especially those catering to international patients, may provide translation and interpretation services. These services can help bridge the language gap and facilitate communication between you and the medical staff. In certain cases, interpreters may be physically present during consultations or procedures, while in others, telephonic interpretation services may be utilized.

Medical Tourism

Turkey has become a popular destination for medical tourism, attracting thousands of international patients each year. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons before deciding on medical tourism.

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Pros and Cons

One of the main advantages of medical tourism in Turkey is the availability of high-quality healthcare services at a fraction of the cost compared to other countries. The country boasts well-trained medical professionals and state-of-the-art facilities, making it an attractive option for those seeking specialized treatments or elective procedures. On the other hand, traveling for medical purposes may involve certain risks, such as the potential for complications during or after the procedure and the challenges of coordinating post-treatment care from a distance.

Choosing a Medical Tourism Provider

If you decide to pursue medical tourism in Turkey, it is crucial to choose a reputable medical tourism provider. Research and reviews can help you identify reliable providers who have a track record of delivering quality care to international patients. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or seek recommendations from trusted sources before making a decision.

Health and Safety Tips

To ensure a safe and healthy trip to Turkey, consider the following tips:

Safe Food and Water

  • Drink bottled water or boiled/filtered water to avoid waterborne illnesses.
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked foods, as well as street food that may not be prepared under hygienic conditions.
  • Choose restaurants and food stalls with good hygiene ratings.

Sun Protection

  • Apply sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply regularly, especially if spending time outdoors.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing to minimize sun exposure.

Insect Protection

  • Use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes and other biting insects.
  • Consider wearing long sleeves and pants during activities in areas with a high risk of insect-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever.

Safe Transportation

  • Use licensed taxis or reputable transportation services.
  • Fasten seatbelts and follow traffic rules when driving or using public transportation.
  • Be cautious when crossing roads, as pedestrian safety measures may vary.


Accessing health services while traveling in Turkey is relatively straightforward due to the well-developed public and private healthcare systems. As an insured person, you can benefit from the comprehensive coverage offered by the public system, while the private sector provides high-quality care for those willing to pay. In case of emergencies, the emergency hotline and ambulance services are available to provide immediate assistance. Pharmacies are easily accessible for medication needs, and it is important to be aware of common health risks and consider necessary vaccinations. Travel insurance can provide additional coverage for unexpected medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation if required. Overcoming language barriers can be facilitated through translators and interpretation services. While medical tourism in Turkey is a popular choice, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons and choose a reputable provider if considering this option. Lastly, following health and safety tips can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Turkey.