The last few years have seen significant reforms in the healthcare system in Turkey, and the Health Transformation Program and the European Union’s harmonization/accession process were among the main reasons for this reform.

Due to major health reforms in 2000 and 2010, universal health insurance coverage for the population was achieved, and the general quality of health services improved significantly, with patient satisfaction rising from 39.5% in 2003 to 75.9% in 2011.

The Turkish Ministry of Health was initially established in 1920, and the foundations of the current Turkish public health system were built between 1923 and 1946.

In 1946, the Social Insurance Organization called “Sosyal Sigortalar Kurumu” or “SSK” was established to provide health insurance For the private sector and public sector employees

The general structure of the health sector in Turkey

The centrally managed public health care system managed by the Ministry of Health was the only form of health services in Turkey, until 2003 when the ruling Justice and Development Party presented a comprehensive program to reform the health sector in Turkey in order to increase the proportion of private health services in the country and provide health care to a proportion of larger than the population.

Information from the Turkish Statistical Institute indicates that 76.3 billion Turkish liras are spent on health care annually, 79.6% of the funding comes from the Social Security Institute, and most of the rest (15.4%) comes from out-of-pocket payments.

Turkey introduced universal health care in 2003 Genel Sağlık Sigortası, and it is financed through an employer surcharge, which is currently 5%, and public sector financing covers about 75.2% of health expenditures.

The health sector in Turkey consists of a mixture of public and private health services.

There are 27,954 medical institutions in Turkey, with 1.7 doctors per 1,000 people and 2.54 beds per 1,000 people.

The private sector is very large and private health services offer shorter waiting lists and higher quality services.

Private healthcare in Turkey has increased in the past decade due to the long queues and personal service in state-run hospitals.

Medical tourism in Turkey

Medical tourism in Turkey is an important and significant part of the country’s health sector, as nearly 178,000 tourists visited for health purposes in the first six months of 2018. 67% used private hospitals, 24% public hospitals, and 9% university hospitals.

The regulation on international medical tourism and tourism health entered into force on July 13, 2017, and since that date, Turkey has become a leading destination for various health treatment procedures, especially plastic surgery and hair transplantation.

Financing the health sector in Turkey

This is done from three sources: the general budget financed from tax revenues, contributions from working citizens, and personal payments, which are paid by every individual who uses the health service.

Citizens in vulnerable groups of society such as pregnant women, war veterans, diabetics, and tuberculosis patients are not required to pay any fees.

However, ex-pats are obligated to pay for health services in order to live and work continuously in Turkey for two years.

Employers must register their employees in the health insurance fund and then the income is automatically deducted from the employees’ salary.