Messages for U.S. Citizens
Update on General Health Insurance for Foreigners in Turkey
February 15, 2012
Last week U.S. Embassy officials attended a briefing given by the Turkish Social Security Institution (SGK). Prior to that briefing, the Embassy submitted written requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and to the SGK in order to request clarification on the new General Health Insurance law (GHI). The written requests were based in part on the many questions and inquiries submitted by U.S. Citizens to the Mission over the past several weeks. Unfortunately, the Embassy has still not received adequate clarification from Turkish authorities on several key points of the law. While some countries have bilateral agreements with Turkey which exempt their citizens from having to participate in the GHI law, the United States does not have such an agreement with Turkey. Therefore, U.S. citizens cannot assume that their status under this law will mirror that of other foreigners living in Turkey.
SGK officials confirmed the following at the briefing:
1) US citizens who choose not to participate in GHI will not face fines or adverse actions, unless they change their mind and sign up after their one month registration period as expired.
2) In order for U.S. citizens to be enrolled in the GHI system, they must take the initiative to register with SGK.
As a U.S. citizen if you would like to enroll in the GHI system you must meet the following conditions.
1) You have resided in Turkey continuously for one year;
2) You have a valid residency permit;
3) You are not insured or benefiting from a system in the U.S. similar to the Turkish GHI system and you can prove that by presenting a letter from the U.S. government (In the coming days we will post more information about this letter on our website, please check the "Living in Turkey <http://turkey.usembassy.gov/living_in_turkey.html> " page of our website for the latest information);
4) You register within one month of completing one year of residence in Turkey;
5) You fill out the GHI Entry Form (GSS Giriş Bildirgesi);
6) You are not mandatorily insured in Turkey as an employee of a registered employer or as a private entrepreneur;
7) You are not already benefitting from the GHI through your spouse, parent or in some cases from your child.
If you miss the registration window of one month after completing one year of residence in Turkey, you can still register. However, in addition to the above requirements, the following also apply:
8) You must pay insurance premiums retroactively from the date of the end of the one month registration window up to the date of actual registration;
9) You must pay interest for the premiums not paid on time;
10) You must pay a fine equal to one month's minimum wage.
When a U.S. citizen applies and becomes a member of the GHI system, s/he will pay the standard monthly premium for foreigners, which is currently 212.76 Turkish Lira. This monthly premium will be increased automatically every January and July. The spouse, children, and in some cases other dependents (mother and father) are also covered through the principal family member who is enrolled.
If U.S. citizen is married to a Turkish citizen who is covered under the GHI system, that U.S. citizen will also be covered under GHI without paying a separate premium, as long as the same basic administrative requirements described above are met.
If a U.S. citizen has a residency permit and a work permit and works for an employer who is registered with the Turkish government and with SGK, or works as a private entrepreneur and is registered with the Turkish government and with SGK, then that U.S. citizen is already covered by GHI.
For more information please visit the "Living in Turkey <http://turkey.usembassy.gov/living_in_turkey.html> " section of the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services website.
Contact information for the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Turkey:
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel: (90)(312) 455-5555, fax (90)(312) 468-6131. The Internet address is http://ankara.usembassy.gov/.
The U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul is located at Uçsehitler Sokagi No. 2, 34460, Istinye, Sariyer, tel: (90) (212) 335-9000, fax (90) (212) 335-9102. Istanbul-specific information can also be accessed via the Consulate's web site at http://istanbul.usconsulate.gov/.
The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at Girne Bulvari No. 212, Guzelevler Mahallesi, Yuregir, Adana, Turkey. tel: (90)(322) 346-6262, fax (90)(322) 346-7916, web site: http://adana.usconsulate.gov/.
The Consular Agency in Izmir can be reached at tel: (90)(232) 464-8755, fax (90) (232) 464-8916.