It’s a Check

Back in January or February, I made my first (and so far only) visit to the American Hospital here in Istanbul.

I was told our health insurance would cover 100% of the visit, so I was surprised when I had to pay 241 TL at the desk in the hospital before even seeing my doctor. I went through the steps for reimbursement and left my money in the fate of the insurance Gods.

Over the summer, I visted several of my doctors back home and had to pay a portion as well, but I figured:
1) American health care is more expensive, and
2) It’s an American insurance company, so things were processed during and/or after my visit very quickly so likely more accurate.

When I returned to Turkey last week, there was a check in my mailbox at school from the insurance company for 241 TL.

Great! I’ll just take that to the bank!

When it was my turn to speak with the lady at the counter, I gave her my account card and the signed check. She looked at it and said, “Bu ne?” (What is this?”)

She told me to speak with my school representative in the back section of the bank to take care of it. That person wasn’t there, so I found someone else who spoke English. That man directed me to a third individual.

All three said that they had never seen a check before. Is this true, Istanbul? You have never used checks? I don’t buy it. It’s even in TL, not USD!

Low and behold, they do have a system for dealing with such an odd money transaction. I passed over the check, signed a form in triplicate, and in true Turkish fashion was told that I would see the money in my account in a week.

…A week? In America, I would see the money in my account by the end of the business day!

He explained that checks are sent to the main bank and are only processed on Mondays and Thursdays, and that it wasn’t likely to reach the bank by this Thursday.

I laughed. Gotta love it. Can it be done? Probably. Will it be done quickly? Definitely not.

Typical Turkish bureaucracy.

I’m sure it would have annoyed me much more if I hadn’t already developed a great deal of patience living in this system for a year. Instead, I smile and share my story.

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