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Messages for U.S. Citizens

Update on General Health Insurance for Foreigners in Turkey

February 29, 2012

On Friday, February 24 U.S. Embassy representatives met with Turkish Social Security (SGK - Sosyal Guvenlik Kurumu) officials to seek clarification about how the new General Health Insurance (GHI) law affects U.S. citizens living in Turkey. 

In the meeting SGK officials stated the following: 

1)      Enrollment in the GHI system is not mandatory for foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who live in Turkey.  If a U.S. citizen residing in Turkey for any length of time does not wish to enroll in GHI that individual does not need to do anything.

2)      Even if a U.S. citizen meets the conditions required by law that make them eligible to apply to the GHI system, it is still not mandatory for that U.S. citizen to register with SGK or apply for GHI.

3)      The SGK will not automatically register or enroll any foreigners in GHI.  The only way for a foreigner to be enrolled in GHI is to voluntarily apply at an SGK office.

4)      If a U.S. citizen is married to a Turkish citizen who is already enrolled in GHI, that U.S. citizen and their dependent children who meet the SGK mandated age related restrictions can benefit from GHI coverage through their Turkish spouse who is already enrolled without paying an additional GHI insurance premium.

5)      Recently the SGK mailed letters to foreigners living in Turkey for information purposes only.  The letters were sent to inform U.S. citizens and other foreigners that if they wish to benefit from the new GHI system they should apply within one month after completing one year of residency in Turkey.

6)      If a U.S. citizen wishes to enroll in and receive GHI coverage they may do so as long as they meet the administrative requirements.  Even if a U.S. citizen has private health insurance that covers costs for medical services received in Turkey, they can still enroll in GHI if they do the following:

a.       Present a valid residency permit and show that they have resided in Turkey for one year.

b.      Register within one month of completing one year of residency in Turkey.

c.       Fill out an application.

d.      Additionally, the local SGK office must have a letter already on file from the U.S. Embassy that describes the U.S. health care system and that Medicare does not provide coverage for services received in Turkey.  This letter will be sent directly from the Embassy to the SGK in Ankara who will then distribute it to the SGK regional offices.  The U.S. citizen will not need to take the letter to the SGK office at the time of enrollment.  The Embassy will send this letter to the SGK in the near future.

7)      Since enrollment in GHI is optional for U.S. citizens, if you decide at first to not participate but then later change your mind and decide to voluntarily enroll the following will happen:

a.       You must pay an administrative fine equal to one month's minimum wage which is currently 886.25 Turkish Lira (TL), and which is subject to change in January and July of each year.  If you do not object to this fine and pay it within 15 days, there is an automatic 25% discount.

b.      You must pay the insurance premiums and interest retroactively from the date that you completed one year of residency in Turkey up to the time of enrollment.

For more information please visit the "Living in Turkey" 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 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.

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. 

The Consular Agency in Izmir can be reached at tel: (90)(232) 464-8755, fax (90) (232) 464-8916.