President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law, the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, repealing the National Health Insurance Scheme Act.

Buhari in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said at the signing of the new law that a fund will be set up “to ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Lancet Commission.”

The president announced that the authority will collaborate with state government health insurance schemes to accredit primary and secondary health facilities and enroll Nigerians into the scheme in order to ensure the delivery of quality health care.

About eight out of 10 Nigerians do not have health insurance cover in Africa’s largest economy, according to a November 2021 survey by NOI Polls, the country’s leading polling agency. A majority of Nigerians pay cash if they have to visit a health care facility when ill. 

To reduce huge out-of-pocket spending for health services, which often leaves many Nigerians in debt, the government established the NHIS in 2004. Despite billions pumped into the scheme since its inception 18 years ago, millions of Nigerians still lack access to quality healthcare services. The health insurance scheme is mostly described as fraudulent and an agency that lacks transparency and accountability. As of 2018, two past heads of the agency were accused of fraud.