People make me smile. one of the questions I am often asked about living in Turkey is whether I worry about getting sick.
Part of me is driven crazy about he million old wives takes and reasons your average Turk thinks you get ill. I’ve even heard of hospital doctors warning people that there infection has been caused by not wearing slippers or using public toilets.
But on the whole Turkish medical facilities are excellent in most places. There are state hospitals and private hospitals and many private clinics. The state hospitals are free If you have Turkish health insurance which legally all Turks should have and is means tested…the premiums are between free and £80. If you choose to go private the cost is on average about 20% of the full price. For a foreigner the health over is just over £80 a month. It is the same for a single person as it is for a couple and children under 18 are covered as well. Excellent value for money.
There is not much in the way of preventative medicine although there are now options where you can go and have a full medical for a reasonable cost. Earlier this year I took myself off to one of private hospitals and had a full check up.
They do blood tests for everything you can think of, you give a urine sample for testing, you have an ultrasound of your gall bladder, liver kidneys etc…., and an ECG. You then see a general Dr who gives you the results and talks about anything that may have been a cause for concern. Afterwards you see a gender specific specialist in my case a gynaecologist who does another ultrasound of your lady bits and some other tests. One test result you have to wait for but it takes a week. The cost for this thorough examination was 175 lira or just about £55.
If you have an ongoing condition or need to see a specialist you just go on line or call and make an appointment. Recently they introduced GP surgeries which are free but you don’t need to referral from a GP to see a specialist. The longest I’ve waited is a week and that was my choice. You can choose where you are treated so people often travel a few hours to see someone recommended as the best rather than just see an ordinary specialist.
They are very quick to spot serious conditions and start treatment rapidly. A friend was anaemic and prescribed iron tablets last year…after 3 weeks when there was no improvement her Dr did extensive further tests and diagnosed a rare form of cancer. She was on chemotherapy in a University hospital a few days later. She always said that if she had been in the UK the type of cancer she had was usually diagnosed after death as it was fast moving and by the time your GP had fobbed you off with a second prescription of iron tablets and then perhaps a few months later referred you it would be too late by the time you got to the top of the waiting list. Sadly she died a couple of months ago but the treatment she had gave her an extra 18 months of quality life.
Four weeks ago I was ill. I knew I was really ill and I had to see the Dr. I got up at 10am and dragged myself to the surgery a few streets away, took my ticket and waited my turn. I was seen by an English speaking Dr 20 minutes after I arrived with no appointment on a Monday morning. After a discussion about my symptoms and a thorough examination he diagnosed acute bronchitis…..he wrote me a prescription for anti biotics, something to stop me coughing and something to clear my chest. These drugs cost less than £4……I went home and took the first dose….. and was back in bed by 11.30am.
So for anyone worried that Turkey is a backward country with third world medical facilities…please be reassured it is mostly excellent. There are no waiting lists, treatments that are considered too expensive in the UK are given here as standard if they are considered the best treatment for your condition.