Brits and foreigner considering a move to Turkey but concerned about the standard of healthcare there should be reassured by the country’s growing appeal as a health tourism destination.
The inflow of foreign patients heading to Turkey for treatment has increased threefold over the past four years, according to the Invest in Turkey agency. The annual total touched 250,000 in 2012, compared to 74,000 in 2008, earning Turkey a place among the top ten medical tourism destinations in the world.
Turkey’s Ministry of Health has ambitious plans to keep growing its health tourism industry, aiming to attract annual 500,000 medical tourists by 2015 and two million by 2023. Part of its strategy includes the introduction of tax-free healthcare zones specifically tailored for foreign patients.
Turkey’s attraction to foreign health tourists has increased radically on account of overall improvements to its medical facilities and a rise in the number of internationally accredited hospitals. This is thanks to the government’s multi-pronged health tourism strategy which is designed to attract more foreign visitors, including elderly and disabled people seeking quality but affordable medical, spa and healthcare facilities.
Research has shown that foreigners are also seeking medical care in dentistry, optometry, orthopedics, plastic surgery, as well as alternative methods of treatment such as the 1,600 thermal springs in the country known for their healing and revitalizing effects. The majority of health tourists currently come from Germany, Russia, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Iraq and France.
Expats in Turkey can choose to buy private medical insurance, typically through a local insurer tied to an international operator such as BUPA or AVIVA, or they can opt for the Turkish state sector’s SGK route.