By Evren Balta and Soli Özel
(Suggestion by Evangelos Areteos)
Intensive care services are the most expensive medical service, the costs of which services are covered by the state insurance system if the patient cannot afford their treatment. Previously, there were a multitude of reports on how private hospitals were abusing the system by unnecessarily and extensively putting the patients in ICUs and charging the public for that. But what could be seen as an investment strategy feeding corruption ironically helped Turkey in delivering effective care to COVID-19 patients.
One should also look at city-level inequalities in the healthcare system. The national figures may be misleading since the pandemic does not affect the country evenly and metropolitan cities are its epicenters. In the case of Turkey, both the health services and health expenditures are concentrated in Istanbul. This is a feature of the Turkish healthcare system that was sharply criticized for being a symbol of unequal access to health care. This fact, and again unintentionally, became one of the strengths of Turkey’s response to the pandemic. Just like NYC, Istanbul has a disproportionate share of the infections since it is Turkey’s most important international hub. Indeed, as compared to other Western countries, Turkey has fewer globally connected cities.
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