'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Drug Trials

Recently J and I joined the Turkish SGK health insurance scheme; we’d heard good reports from others and our existing private insurance couldn’t be upgraded because of our ages. The Turkish scheme takes you whatever your age and regardless of any pre-existing conditions and it will cover your prescriptions – seemed like a pretty reasonable deal to us. If you use the state hospitals and clinics there are no hidden extras, if you go private you just cough up any difference between what the state pays for and the private institution’s bill.

Anyway, J and I were getting short on a few of the pills and potions we use to put off using the body-washing and wrapping service provided by the local authorities, so we went to see our new ‘family doctor’. He wrote out our prescriptions but told us there were several of the drugs that required a report by the specialist at the hospital before the pharmacist would supply them. Daft thing is that if you are paying with cash you can get just about anything over the counter with no prescription and no check ups.

We were duly seen and issued with several bits of paper covered with stamps, signatures and assorted stickies. Back to the pharmacist where we discovered that these bits of paper were not ‘reports’ and we needed ‘reports’. So, back to the hospital – now, I could go on in great detail because this routine was repeated a couple more times, but I won’t!

It seems that the doctors will issue prescriptions based on the blood tests we had but if we want the state to pick up the tab (which we do) then we have to be properly examined. The twist in all this is that, in my case, some of my blood readings were slightly out and so because of my age I got my prescriptions free. J, on the other hand, because her drugs had her under control (I should be that lucky) and she was within every one of her limits was deemed by the system to not qualify! Can you believe this? This is how the system works (or doesn’t in J’s case), the fact that she is stabilised because she takes certain drugs disqualifies her from getting those  drugs supplied free.

We put it to the doctor that perhaps both of us should knock off taking our stuff for a week prior to our next examination to ensure we weren’t too healthy when we were examined! He laughed but then sort of shrugged in agreement. I mean, what do they do with someone who is, for example, a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of being Jack the Ripper – ‘Sorry mate, can’t help you. Come back in a couple of weeks when Jack’s around and we’ll see what we can do.’ This is a system created, set up and run by bureaucrats for bureaucrats who, apparently change the rules several times a day, and the doctors admit that their hands and feet are tied along with their prescription pads.

So, renewing our prescriptions actually took from 10 in the morning until nearly 5 in the afternoon; we were both hacked off and pretty knackered by it all. The final bit that had to be done was for J to be examined by a doc to get her hormone replacement prescription – she disappeared for about half an hour and when she came back it was a good news-bad news thing; the bad news was that after all that buggering about she couldn’t have the drug because it wasn’t on the list; the good news? The lady ‘ladies’ doctor was wonderfully efficient and J got a full ‘ladies check up’ thrown in for free, and the cream on the cake (if I can call it that)? everything is tickety-bo! Not such a wasted day after all.

Oh! by the way, so many foreign residents have elected to join this system and such is the chaos this has added to that which is already inherent in this system ‘of  bureaucrats, by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats’ that they have had to suspend any further enrollments, so, if you’re not in yet – ‘tough tittie’ you could well die of something before you get to share in the frustration.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü