Foreigners with a residence permit in Turkey are entitled to the General Healthcare Insurance as Turkish citizens. This includes access to government-provided healthcare services and benefits, including preventive care, primary care, and specialized care.

However, for this, the residence in Turkey with a legal permit should be fulfilled at least one year. Those who have a residence permit in Turkey are eligible to enroll in the national health insurance program as their residence fulfilled the first year, with the SGK (Social Security Institution). This program provides coverage for a wide range of health services, including hospital care, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs, and preventive care. The finance is being made by SGK directly within the rules defined in the Health Transactions Communique. The immediate family (spouse and children up to the age of 19 are covered alongside the insured.

For international students there is no need for one-year of residence but it requires to apply within three months as to start from the school registration date. If to apply within the statutory period the foreigner student can benefit from the general health insurance during his/her education life. The student general health insurance does not cover the family members, covers just the student himself/herself.

Foreigners with a residence permit in Turkey are also eligible to receive the same financial assistance as Turkish citizens for health care costs if they cannot afford to pay out of pocket. In line with the Social Assistance and Solidarity Encouragement Fund appropirations, foreigners healthcare expenses without any income or wealth to afford the out-of-pocket payments are beign covered by the Fund. This includes, Syrians residents who are under temporary protection as well.

As an important point, chronical diseases which are diagnosed prior of being a general health insurance holder in Turkey, is not covered by the SGK, as a exclusive provision for foreigners. Yet, if the disease is not diagnosed previously, treatment would be covered by the financing system whether the patient is a Turkish citizen or a foreigner. In addition, if the foreigner will be neturalised in the future via residence or via investment, all the expenses--regardless of being diagnosed prior or not, shall be covered by the SGK within the general rules.

Additionally, It's important to note that the rights and benefits may vary depending on the type of residence permit, and the period of time it's valid for. Also, it's important to check for any changes in the regulations and rules about the healthcare insurance system in Turkey especially in the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. We strongly advise all foreigners to consult regarding their General Health Insurance rights with our experts.

by Bünyamin Esen, Senior Migration Expert and Founding Partner