The concept of Social Health Insurance was first mooted in 1962 by the Halevi Committee, which passed the proposal through the Lagos Health Bill. Unfortunately, it was truncated.
In 1984, forced by the desire to source more funds for healthcare services, the National Council on Health under Admiral Patrick Koshoni, then Minister of Health, inaugurated a committee , chaired by Prof. Diejomoah advised government on the desirability of Health Insurance in Nigeria and recommended its adoption.
In 1985, Dr. Emmanuel Nsan, the Minister of Health set up a committee on National Health Review headed by Mr. L.Lijadu. This committee also reported that Health Insurance is viable in Nigeria.
Later in 1985, Prof. Olikoye Ransome Kuti, then the Minister of Health, raised a consultative Committee on National Health Insurance Scheme. the committee was made of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Employer Consultative Association (NECA). Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmacautical Society of Nigeria (PSN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Armed Forces Medical Directorate, National Planning Commission (NPC), Federal Ministry of Labour, and the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC). Upon submission of their report another committee chaired by Dr. E. Umez-Eronin was set up to recommend an acceptable model for the implementation of a Social Health Insurance in Nigeria. At the 28th meeting of the National Council on Health, another committee was set up on National Health Insurance Scheme. After the submission of its report, the Federal Government approved the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme in 1989.
In 1991, the Federal Government signed an agreement with the UNDP and the International Labour Organisation for planning and implementation of the scheme. Studies carried out involved acturial analysis, computerization requirement, financial procedure, management information system, guidelines and draft law on the National Health Insurance Scheme. In 1993, the Federal Ministry of Health presented a memorandum to the Federal Executive Coucil (FEC) praying for immediate implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme. In 1995, the National Health Summit endorsed the need to setup the National Health Insurance Scheme as soon as possible.
At its 42nd meeting, the National Council on Health (NCH) approved the repackaging of the NHIS to ensure full private sector participation. This model ensured the introduction of Health Maintenance Organisation (HMOs) as financial managers of the Scheme.
On October 15th, the National Health insurance Scheme was finally launched. The enabling law Decree 35 of 1999 (now Act 35 of 1999) was signed in May 1999. National Council on Health special meeting on NHIS held in Port Harcourt in July 2001 recommended the need for the scheme tp take off. There after an Implementation Planning Committee was set up which met in September 2001 and submitted its report recommending the immediate take off of the Scheme.