Which are the things that make Turkey a top 10 medical tourism destination?

In the past, medical tourism was a term that usually referred to people from less-developed country traveling abroad for medical treatment that wasn’t available in their home country. However, with the rising costs of healthcare in developed countries, the number of medical tourists from these countries keeps increasing. A lot of people choose to have their surgery abroad and enjoy a medical vacation at the same time. Oftentimes, the combined cost of the two is lower than the fee for surgery in their home country. That’s why countries like Turkey, Thailand, and India are becoming popular medical tourism destinations. In this article, we’ll focus on medical tourism in Turkey and see why this country attracts almost one million medical tourists every year!

The growth of medical tourism in Turkey in recent years

cruise in Turkey

Turkey is one of only a few countries that stretches over two different continents and a popular tourist destination that’s slowly turning into a medical tourism destination. With its mesmerizing sandy beaches and cities full of history, Turkey has always been a popular tourist destination. However, not too many people realize that Turkey is one of the world’s best destinations for medical tourism. Over the course of the last couple of decades, the large-scale investments by the public and private sector significantly improved the country’s medical infrastructure. The government recently launched a lot of state-of-the-art “City Hospitals” across the country, while private hospitals also invested heavily in their facilities, implementing services and capacities designed to cater patients from foreign countries.

As a consequence, medical tourism in Turkey has been booming, especially in the last few years. In 2018, Turkey welcomed more than 850,000 medical tourists from 149 different countries, according to the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council. Additionally, Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, provides discounted flight fares to people traveling in Turkey for medical tourism.

What makes Turkey a great medical tourism destination?

Based on installed capacities, Turkey is the fourth “geothermal country in the world”, falling behind only the US, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In case you didn’t know, geothermal hot water is widely used in medicine. This, combined with the highly-qualified workforce and well-equipped hospitals make Turkey one of the world’s best medical tourism destinations.
Additionally, the number of accredited hospitals specializing in cardiology, transplantation, plastic surgery, and advanced oncotherapy has been growing exponentially over the last two decades. Furthermore, after the launch of Istanbul’s new airport, patients from over 50 countries will be able to reach Istanbul with a four-hour flight. Taking all this into consideration, we can safely assume that medical tourism in Turkey will only keep growing. Another great reason that points to that direction is…

The cost efficiency of traveling to Turkey for medical purpose

Istanbul view

Compared to the EU and the US, a lot of surgical fees are 50-60% lower in Turkey. Hence, it makes sense for a lot of people to travel to Turkey, have surgery over there, and even have an extended holiday- and still spend less money than what they would have to pay for the treatment in their native country. For example, an angioplasty procedure in the United States costs around $48,000 (on average). In Turkey, the same procedure costs $5,000, which is even cheaper than countries like Thailand, India, and Singapore. Furthermore, knee joint replacements cost around $50,000 in the US, while in Turkey, this procedure would cost you only $11,000.

But the list doesn’t end there. The fees for cosmetic procedures like hair transplants are also significantly lower in Turkey. For example, in the UK, hair transplants cost up to £30,000, making them too expensive for most people. Despite the side effects, many seek the treatment to avoid the depression that comes with hair loss. In Turkey, on the other hand, the same treatment costs between $1,000 and $2,500. Medical tourism has opened an escape route for those struggling financially and created a medium for them through which they can receive high-quality medical care at lower prices. Visit veraclinic.net/en if you would like to learn more about medical tourism and hair transplants.

A few things you should know about medical tourism in Turkey

medical tourism in turkey

Earnings: Turkey is currently getting approximately $4 billion per year in health tourism revenue. According to government calculations, the number of medical tourists should increase to 2 million patients and the revenues to $20 billion by 2023.

Accredited hospitals: There are more than 50 JCI accredited hospitals in Turkey. Most of them are located in Istanbul, Bursa, Antalya, Izmir, Adana, and Kocaeli. All of them satisfy the same standards as EU countries, as Turkey has been aiming to enter the union for over two decades. Additionally, some hospitals have partnerships with institutions like the Harvard Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Institute.

 Waiting time: The average waiting time for complicated surgical procedures in the western world is quite long. In Turkey, the average waiting time is incomparably shorter. For example, the average waiting time for knee surgery in the EU and the US is 18 months. In Turkey, the average waiting time for the same procedure is only two weeks.

Istanbul crowded street

The growth pace: According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreign medical tourists has been increasing with a stunning 30% per year over the last decade. This contributed to Turkey becoming a top 10 destination for medical tourism in 2018, according to TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice.

Medical vacations: Turkey has a lot of cities with Mediterranean weather but also a lot of mountains and beautiful villages. This makes it the perfect destination for a vacation. Hence, a lot of people decide not only to undergo surgery in Turkey but also have their vacation here.

Finally, even though this article is about medical tourism we simply can’t forget about…

The leisure activities Turkey has to offer

cappadocia hot air balloon

The list of activities that you can indulge in when visiting Turkey is endless. Depending on which season you choose to undergo your surgery and the geographical location, it’s safe to assume that you’ll find some interesting things to do throughout the year. You can visit one of the many ancient monuments, just relax on one of the many pristine, beautiful beaches or experience the culture of the country that connects the east and the west. Hence, the well-deserving nickname, the “crossroad of the world”. In fact, this is one of Turkey’s strategic advantages- that it can easily welcome patients from a large geographic scope. As Napoleon said it: ”If the world was only one country, Istanbul would be its capital!”. If you’re looking to see the best of Turkey in a short period (while recovering or waiting for your surgery date), this tour by G Adventures is a great choice. You can try to arrange your own accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing but it’s virtually impossible to do that and spend less than what you’d pay for this amazing tour.

Most medical tourists choose cities like Istanbul, Antalya, and Ankara, which also are some of Turkey’s most famous tourist destinations. However, a lot of people disregard that there are a lot of high-quality hospitals in the north of Turkey, which also is one of the least visited parts of the country, despite the plethora of activities it offers to visitors.

Did you ever travel somewhere for medical purposes? Would you consider Turkey as a medical vacation destination? Share your thoughts and let me know in the comments!

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29 thoughts on “Which are the things that make Turkey a top 10 medical tourism destination?”

  1. I have been to Turkey a few times but I have never realized that is a top 10 medical destination. It’s great that in Turkey the waiting time for surgery is only 2 weeks. I’m totally with you with the Turkish food. One of my favorite. I wish I could get some baklavas right now. And they can totally be a sweet relief for people who travel to Turkey for medical reason. Your post is very informative and interesting.

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  2. Wow, this way a very interesting article to read! I had no idea the fees were that much lower. This really made me think!

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  3. That’s one of the most interesting articles on medical tourism in Turkey. Always wanted to visit Turkey, such a culturally enriched place, and this post opens up a new side of the country to me. Well done!

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  4. I have been to Turkey only once but I never knew that it would be such an uprising medical destination. I heard about it in German TV, but I didn’t know that so many people would actually go. I love the part on Turkish food! I am obsessed with it.

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  5. I never really thought of medical tourism as a thing. I knew people want abroad sometimes for medical care, but I never considered that it could be a vacation as well. It makes sense though. I know coming from the USA, that if you don’t have medical coverage through your work it is very expensive. Better to spend your money traveling and get medical care than the same amount for just medical care! Very interesting post, I will have to consider this in the future 🙂

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    • Absolutely, Elizabeth and this post is mostly for people from countries like the US where you can literally travel abroad for a medical treatment and have a vacation for less money than what the treatment would cost in their native countries 🙂

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  6. I really loved reading this post! I have heard of medical tourism but haven’t met anyone personally who has done it (that I know of). It is shocking how inexpensive surgeries can be compared to the high prices in developed countries. This was really fascinating!

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  7. I never realised that Turkey was a well thought of medical tourism country. We visit Thailand always for dental it is much cheaper than Australia but had never thought of Turkey. We love visiting Turkey and spent a month there back in 2013. It is now tempting to return after reading your article. We will spread the word.

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  8. I had always known Turkey to be a great tourist destination but did not know that it had such great medical facilities. It was good to know about it and also about it being a geothermal country. I would probably not visit Turkey for medical treatment, but would definitely visit it for all the other reasons. 🙂

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  9. Wow I had no idea people went to Turkey for procedures. Also whoever thought of surgery & medical vacation is genius. Why not go to a beautiful country and enjoy it while you get the surgery done? My family is from Pakistan and I have aunts and uncles who have gotten surgeries in Pakistan but I wouldn’t trust that. This is a great alternative! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. This is definitely a new concept for me to learn about. I knew that some people traveled to different countries for certain medical procedures, but I had no idea that it was as significant a number as you presented. I can definitely see the appeal for traveling to Turkey with the cost and wait times being significantly lower than in the US or EU.

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  11. I had no idea that medical tourism was rising in Turkey. It’s sad that people have to travel to other countries to receive quality care at affordable prices. I wish there were quality and affordable care for everyone in their home country. Until then medical tourism will keep on rising.

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    • It sure is, Candy and I think it will rise even more in the next few years. It is a bit sad that people have to travel for surgeries but I don’t find medical tourism as a necessarily bad thing, on the contrary- it opens up opportunities for people that aren’t able to/can’t afford treatment in their own country.

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  12. The only thing I knew about Turkey being a medical destination was sadly from a woman who died from cosmetic surgery there. These tragedies can happen everywhere of course. I’d just like myself to visit the country! I’m hoping to get there this year, and will hopefully see these places!

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  13. On the one hand, it is strange to read about how nice the weather is or great excursions as a reason for why a country is high on the list for medical tourism. For me, I would only be concerned about how good the doctors were and the cost. But, I guess if you have other countries competing for the same dollars, and you have equally good medical care, then turning to the weather and what you can do while you are recuperating would be important considerations. Thanks for the interesting read.

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    • It actually is important for the recovery process and a lot of people choose destinations that can help them recover faster. The surrounding and the atmosphere is indeed an important factor, even though not the most important one (obviously).

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  14. I am from India, and I have seen first hand how medical tourism has boomed here over the last two decades. As compared to developed nations, services are cheaper here and the quality of treatment is one of the best. It’s good to know that Turkey is also in that league. And how nice to get a discount on flight tickets.

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    • Absolutely, Suman. I stayed in India for a year and I can confirm that. Turkey is indeed, in the same league and the government has been doing whatever it can to support medical tourism in the country.

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  15. This is the first time I heard about Turkey as a medical destination. Reading through the prices, no wonder people are flying into Turkey for medical procedures. If I have to go there for this reason, I will still look into hospitals that are recommended by the expats living there.

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    • Absolutely, that’s important Umiko but as I mentioned, Turkey has more than 50 JCI-accredited hospitals, which is a really high number and all of these have state-of-the-art equipment and very qualified personnel.

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