Tag Archives: Health Insurance

36 Hours and a Bionic Implant

I suppose it is time to talk about this.

Through last winter I (Ashley) was feeling very breathless, I put it down to the smoke and air pollution, used ventolin, it seemed to help a bit.  Then in late January when I was in the UK I started having chest pain.  I put it down to the severe cold and since the discomfort wasn’t particularly disabling and stopped if I rested I did not think too much of it.

Then once back in Selçuk I decided it was probably a good idea to go see my family doctor.  Things happened fast.  An ECG was done, she was worried about it so an ambulance was called to take me to the local hospital.  They did more tests and another ECG.  This resulted in another ambulance and then being blue-lighted to Medical Park, a big private hospital in Izmir.  They did some more tests, wired me up for monitoring, filled me up with some pills, and scheduled an angiogram and potential angioplasty for the following day.  I’m not sure what all the pills were but they made me drowsy so I don’t remember a great deal.  I Know Hilary was there, I know lots of forms were signed, I know some bits were explained to me, and there are some gaps.

Next day after more sedation I get taken in for the angiogram, during which they followed up with an angioplasty fitting one stent.  This was followed by a few hours in a Cardiac ICU before later that evening being moved back out to a more regular ward.  This was good, I did not like ICU, though to be honest I slept through some of it.  At least on the regular ward Hilary was able to be present so I had some company and the sedation had worn off.

The following morning I got to see the cardiologist again, was told that one artery was 90% blocked, that a medicated stent has been fitted, that there are some other arteries with a  bit of build up but nothing to worry about.  I was told to lose weight, watch diet, put on a regime of pills, clopidogrel, aspirin and a statin, and sent home.  They said to rest for 24 hours and then return to normal activity, and obviously if there were any problems to go straight back, and with planned follow up in one month.

I spent 36 hours in a modern and swish private hospital, with state of the art equipment and everything that could be expected in terms of care, a major physical intervention, and time in ICU.  The cost to me, zero, all picked up by the Turkish state health insurance I pay.  The care was generally fantastic, though to be honest these days it all runs through clinical pathways.  The doctors did what they needed to do and seemed extraordinarily competent.  The nurses do less than they do in the UK, here family or friends are expected to attend to basic stuff, what they did do they did efficiently and by the book.  It’s tick box nursing, but at least they followed the protocols and if there was reason to escalate they did so.   It was my first (and hopefully my last) major encounter with health care here in Turkey, all I can say is the standard of care was fantastic and as said all picked up by state health insurance.

I’ve lost weight since then, 5 kilos or so, something which needed to happen.  The cholesterol is down and where it needs to be.  Lifestyle changes have been made.  Clopidogrel is a pain in the proverbial, if I cut myself I bleed more, but I’ll be on it for a while.  I’m now on follow up every three months and the doctors are very happy with my progress.   So all good, onwards and upwards to new things in life.

Little Surprises in Life

Today Ashley started the process of getting new glasses since his old ones are more than two years old and we were pretty certain the  prescription had changed.  We went with staff from the Optician in Kuşadası to a local hospital for an eye test, and learnt that for some unknown reason our GSS (Health Insurance) was no longer in place.

We paid for the eye examination (at 100 lira it was not unreasonable).  It should have cost a lot less, but had we cancelled, gone to Tire to sort the insurance out, then back to Kuşadası, all the running around would have significantly eaten into any savings.

Back at the opticians we ordered the lenses, varifocal, transition, with anti-glare coating and scratch protection, at a very reasonable price.  They will be fitted, into Ashley’s existing Flexon frames, and should be ready for collection on Friday afternoon.  As part of the general customer service Ashley had his current lenses fitted into older frames, Hilary had hers adjusted and çay was provided.

Then since we were in Kuşadası  and it was approaching lunch time we went for balık ekmek in the much improved square near the fish market.  It was, as always, cheap and delicious.  We did look into the fish market just in case there might be some tuna or swordfish – unfortunately no such luck.  We did learn that the restaurant / locanta next to the fish market will cook fish bought by customers on the market.  There was a good deal of trade in giant prawns, selling and cooking.  Ashley may give this a try at some point.

We’d gone on the dolmuş in case the eye exam involved something that would make riding unwise but, once we got home with a few bits of shopping we hopped on the bike and went to the SGK office in Tire (about 35 km up the road in the opposite direction from Kuşadası).  Which was fun and games as it is market day in Tire and, of course, we couldn’t resist a couple of purchases.  Anyway, the people in the office were as puzzled as we were about why our insurance was suddenly stopped.  They checked our documents, took some photocopies, filled out a form, and  they reinstated it…

With all the issues we have had with GSS we will be checking in the pharmacy that we are both properly on the system, but they definitely did something, as we have now been able to pay our current premium.

I can see clearly now… (but it is still raining)

Feb-13-aAbout a week ago, Hilary fell over in the Artemis Temple and scratched her glasses.  She also sustained some nasty bruises but those have gone now…  The scratches were too deep to polish out and, whilst they had no drastic effects upon her vision, Hilary was due for an eye test anyway.  So we decided to get her new glasses, involving a new eye test and a new prescription.

On Monday we went to Kuşadası to visit Lara Optik.  They are highly recommended on the Kuşadası forum.  Our confidence in the place was further boosted when a friend walked in at the same time as us.  Necdet was very helpful and very personable.  He arranged an appointment at Ada Göz, a private eye hospital which offers a hefty discount for people with GSS – the Government Health Insurance scheme in which we are enrolled.

not-a-cruise-shopWe had an hour or so to spare so we went for tea at Guvercin garden, the Belediye run tea garden right on the waterfront.  No cruiseships this time of year though the harbour was not exactly empty…  It seems the US navy were in town although we did not see any sailors.

After tea one of the guys from Lara Optik gave us a lift to the Eye Hospital, whereupon we discovered that Hilary was not registered for GSS.  Ashley was registered and Hilary should have been registered as his dependent…  We ended up payıng for her eye test.  120 lira.  Not unreasonable but somewhat annoying.  For that she not only got an eye test and glasses prescription but examination, treatment and eye drop prescription for some irritation she’s been suffering recently.

Back to the optician for a discussion of options.  Hilary chose some frames and expensive varifocal lenses    All in all about what the same as the equivalent would have cost in the UK.

The next day we went to sort out the Health Insurance problem.  Not being on the system was worrying.  This involved a trip to Tire on the dolmuş.  It was market day so things were hectic.  Ashley remembered the way to the SGK office where, after we explained what we wanted, the security guy issued us with a numbered ticket.  We waited about half an hour then explained to the memur that Ashley was on the system but Hilary was not (we had taken along our translated and notarised marriage certificate, though they already have a copy of that).  At first we were told it was because we had not got the paperwork from the nüfus office in Selçuk.   We explained that we had delivered that back in September.  Then the memur who originally dealt with us came over, showed the other guy how to put Hilary on the system, put her on the system and told us that she would be on the system should we return to the hospital straight away.

new-glassesToday we went back to Lara Optik in Kuşadası to collect Hilary’s glasses.  They are purple and, she thinks, quite becoming.  As they are varifocals it will take a while to get used to them but she already notices a big improvement for reading, sewing and using the computer.  And hopefully (inşallah) in future seeing her feet and the corresponding part of the ground at the same tıme.

Getting our Universal Health Insurance

This insurance, Genel Sağlık Siğortası (GSS) is not compulsory for us as UK citizens but we decided that we wanted to take it out.  We want to pay into the system and we want to be sure we will be covered in the long term.  Maybe because we both worked for the NHS (and Hilary worked in a private hospital for a while) we are somewhat wary of private healthcare.

Our understanding has been that we were not entitled to apply for this until we had been in Turkey for a full year.  We knew they would want to see our Ikamet (residence permits) and those started just over a year ago.

So, off we went to Tire with a whole load of documents and photocopies.  Arriving at the SGK office we took a number – 70 – they were currently on 48 and we despaired of being seen before lunch…  Despair was short-lived as they romped through the numbers (many of the numbers appeared not to have associated tickets, or maybe the people with the tickets had given up and gone home) – we waited less than a quarter of an hour.  The lady behind the desk took our Ikamets, kimlik numbers, and our translated, notarised wedding certificate.  She did not ask for any other papers.  She was about to photocopy them when we called out to her that we had already done this.  She checked that our photocopies were adequate for her purposes and issued Ashley with a form to fill in.  He filled it in…

We were passed to a very pleasant man in the office behind the desk.  He told us that the system was down and he would phone us and tell us what we needed to do next.  He wrote on a piece of paper that Ashley wanted to register for Genel Sağlık Siğortası for himself and his wife.  Ashley signed it.  We established that we didn’t have to hang around in Tire, went for a wander and lunch, were home by 14:00 (having done some shopping on the way).

The man from Tire phoned at about half past five.  Our address is not on the system.  He said we needed to go to the Nüfüs office in Selçuk to get it confirmed and on the system.  He did not think we would  need to go back to Tire.  We looked the office up on the Internet and it is on the 3rd floor of the Belediye building where the Tapu office is.

The following morning, on arrival at the Belediye building we found  the Nüfüs and explained to the lady behind the desk that we needed our address confirmation for the GSS.  She looked at our Ikamets, kimlik numbers, and at a bill we had bought along to prove where we lived and gave us some signed and stamped papers verifying our address.  She was of the view that we should take the stamped papers to the SGK office in Tire.

In the afternoon we delivered these to the office in Tire.  We were recognised on arrival, the papers we had brought were added to our file.  We were told we would be phoned when we were on the system.

This took a while.  We saw on various expat forums that people were being told that the system was down and there was a public holiday but about 5 working days later, Hilary was showing a visiting friend around Ephesus when the man from the Tire office phoned her to say we are on the system and we needed to go to the bank to pay our bill.

This morning we popped into Halk Bank here in Selçuk, took a ticket, queued for around 40 minutes (they were very busy), told the cashier we wanted to pay our GSS – he took Ashley’s kimlik number and asked us for 248 lira.  We reckon that’s for about three days of August and the regular sum due on 1st September but only time will tell…

Health Insurance – Part 2 – the saga continues

There has been some talk for the last couple of years about Turkey introducing compulsory state health insurance.  We have been keeping an eye on developments, at times it seemed we would be allowed to join, at times it appeared not, at times there were rumours it would be compulsory.  From our perspective it seemed a fairly good scheme one that we would be willing to join as and when we either could or had to.

Because it was unclear whether we could join or not and we were both aware that we need health insurance of some sort we took out a local private scheme.  We knew that we may end up being doubly insured and that we may at a future point leave the private scheme.  We may well keep the private scheme anyway since it gives health insurance when travelling outside of Turkey and now that we are living here we are not, when visiting the UK, really entitled to NHS outside of emergency care.

More recently matters came to a head, with as usual a great deal of uncertainty and confusion, and in various discussion places a great deal of rhetoric.  We were about to get copies made of various documents and shove them into a file with various other notarised and translated documents, and head off to the SGK office in Tire.  The plan being to attempt to join and see what happened.

Now it (quoting the words of the British Embassy in Ankara) appears we do not have to.  The Embassy has given guidance that it appears that once a non-Turkish resident completes one year of residence in Turkey, they must apply to join the scheme.  We note the word appears with interest, but for now are going to take it at face value and at the same time continue to monitor for future developments.

Health Insurance

Putting plans for the future aside we decided it was a good day for sorting out another of the basic essentials of life in Turkey. This may have been galvanised by Ashley having had a cold for the last few days and feeling quite unwell. Today we took ourselves off to Kuşadası and sorted out health insurance. This is needed since we are living here, our travel insurance has sort of covered it given we have been back and forth, but, longer term, getting local health insurance is a very good idea. At the present time Turkish state health insurance is probably not available to us, the situation is confusing and may change soon. We did not think it wise to wait.

We were given some quotes a couple of weeks ago so returned to that particular office with a few questions. When we got there the agent was at lunch, we decided to waste some time doing nothing much in particular and return later. Given it was pleasantly warm in the sun we went to a tea garden on the seafront, drinking tea is a great way to fill time, the Gűvercinli tea garden is particularly pleasant and very good value. The name means ‘Place with doves’ (loose translation) and it is run by the Belediye (roughly equivalent to the local council). The collared dove is a symbol of Kuşadası – the name Kuşadası itself means bird island. The tea garden opened last year, we think, it has fountains, a children’s play park and tables pushed right up against the waterside. It’s self-service and incredibly cheap considering the wonderful situation.

We had started to do a little window shopping which is much easier to do in Kuşadası in January than during tourist season, and bought a pair of combat pants, before we were called by the agent to let us know he had returned from lunch. We met, had some questions answered, talked a little about the various schemes, made some decisions. The only documentation requested was Residence Permits and we were asked for kimlik numbers, all of which we thoughtfully had to hand. We had some forms filled out, drank more tea, paid some money, and walked out with health insurance for both of us.