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Health Care in North Cyprus

I have written on this topic before but I feel it is necessary to be regularly visited. Here in North Cyprus, health care costs!!!!! Many of us are used to the NHS in the UK and many people ignore the simple fact that taking up permanent residence abroad is a wonderful thing until ill health strikes.

I have heard people say that if they have a serious health complaint they will go back to good old Blighty for treatment. What they fail to understand is that the NHS considers that if you live abroad they will only treat if you pay. Yes, I know we have all paid in to the system and many of us still pay UK taxes on our pensions but those illegal immigrants do appear to have more rights than we do! Some people say they have a good GP back in England who will “deal with” the system. However, Big Brother is watching and you can be sure that somebody will drop you in it somewhere down the line. Also people have gone back knowing they have a specific problem that would have been dealt with here within days of being discovered. They pay airfares as a couple then find that as their condition is not immediately  life threatening they go on the waiting list. If you add air fare costs to car hire costs to accommodation costs etc the procedure would possibly have been dealt with here at a lower cost! But this is the British Disease, why should I pay when I have paid taxes etc for x number of years. It appears that the UK now look after foreigners who have not contributed before “ex pats”.

I now move to the positives of living in TRNC and the health care that is available. If you have been with us for a couple of years you will have read my articles about health checks that I did at Medikent in Lefkoşa; then my better half’s experience of surgery there. Both of which could not be considered expensive. Also the equipment and doctors used were equal to or better than anything in the NHS. Others have used the State Hospitals here and found, contrary to expectations, that the facilities and care are as good as you may find in some hospitals in the UK.

Last week the boss and I took advantage of a look around the facilities at the Near East University Hospital in Lefkoşa. I had my mouth open from driving into the car park. There are TWO 8 storey blocks with an atrium between for the main hospital, then a dentistry unit attached that I am told is the envy of all with dental problems. In addition this is a teaching hospital. Some of the equipment we saw on the tour we had never even heard of before. There is a laboratory that can carry out over 1,400 separate clinical tests. You can have more or less instant radiography pictures or blood test in less than 2 hours. There is a machine that can excise tumours using 3D technology, there are MRI, CT and nuclear facilities that would just not be available without a long wait in the UK. The rooms, if you are an in-patient, are like being in a 3* hotel, not that you would be bothered if you were ill! That said, when better half was in Medikent I got fed as well.

OK, so what happens if you get ill? Earlier this year the better half was told she had a tumour and that it was better if it was dealt with now. It turned out to be benign and the all-inclusive cost was just under 5,000tl. But what happens if this was the Big C and there were mega costs attached for chemo, surgery etc? I have already said that the mandarins in charge of the NHS are screwing those that choose to live abroad, so those savings are going to take a beating.

Your option is health care insurance, a totally alien concept to many from the UK and for some even for holiday cover. We have examined the costs and quite frankly we initially considered the costs to be 100% stupid! Then we revisited the stories related to us about what health care had cost for urgent and emergency treatment. Whoops, insurance may appear to be expensive but if you consider the consequences of waiting in the UK or paying for almost instant care here… there is no comparison.

I will not state what insurance cost us for cover here because each case is different so ask your insurance agent. I am sure you will find the same as us, not many are interested, especially the age group that many of us fall into. One Turkish agent we spoke to said they do health care cover but NOT in TRNC.

The people we spoke with are Trevor and Pauline who you will find at Chateau Lambousa on a Saturday under the Health Insurance Banner in the garden area. They are using companies from Western Europe & USA for quotes and cover. Interestingly you can currently get 6% discount if you are a member of the British Legion. In addition Trevor and Pauline are talking with the owners of Near East Hospital to try to set up services that would cater for the needs of foreigners, i.e. a designated GP service and English Language contacts at source for those who struggle with their Turkish. Who knows, they may also be able to negotiate further discounts if there is sufficient uptake of services?

Finally, do not take health care for granted! What you think you may be entitled to will probably not be what you receive. You insure your car, your house and your pets but how many insure against accident or ill health?

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