Sunday, 22 January 2012

Health,Wealth and Happiness

In the 1980s, health, wealth and happiness were intrinsically linked.  There was a hospital in Bodrum, but you had to be desperate (or dead)  to use it.  (It was conveniently just past the Mausoleum) . I once ventured in and a porter was vigorously mopping the entrance, unfortunately there was more blood in his bucket than on the floor. I exited, green faced, before I added to his problem. If we needed a doctor or hospital we went straight to Izmir and paid what was asked. Those who couldn't afford the private fees, didn't see a doctor.  I know many families whose life savings were wiped out with one bout of illness.  Happily, things have changed. We now have a serviceable state hospital in Bodrum and private hospitals which can be accessed by state financed patients and a new local  GP system, just like in England.
By the end of January, everyone over the age of 18, has to sign up to the new SGK scheme and, if not in employment or education, pay a contribution based on their household income. According to the press, those that haven't signed up by 31st January will be fined.   For the first time in Turkey, everyone should be eligible for state funded health care. As with most things, rumour is rife and facts are difficult to grasp.  The ex-pat residents are especially confused as to whether they will be fined if they don't sign up. Having just arrived, I decided to make sure my family were covered and looked up the address of the SGK office on the internet.  There was no map and the address meant nothing to us, so we rang up on Monday to ask for directions. A harassed young lady on the other end of the phone couldn't help us, she had just been transferred to the office  and didn't know where it was! 
We did get there in the end and after two visits are now signed up.  No fine for us. 

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