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How Does Health Insurance Work In Nigeria For Expats

How Does Health Insurance Work In Nigeria For Expats?

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Lee Doran

Underwriting Manager Download Contact

Lee Doran

Underwriting Manager

If you’re an expatriate or digital nomad living or planning to move to Nigeria, you may wonder about the quality of the local healthcare system, how to get health insurance for expats in Nigeria, and what your best options are in a medical emergency.

Whether you’re still in the planning phase or have made the move already, we can help you find international health insurance in Nigeria that’s right for you.

Already decided on a private health plan? We’ve been helping individual expats and businesses in Africa for over 30 years. Get a quick quote to see how William Russell can help you with international health insurance in Nigeria!

How to get health insurance for expats in Nigeria?

There are two ways you can get health insurance as an expat in Nigeria. 

Brokers can advise on local and international health insurance companies and plans that are available to expats in Nigeria. They offer their services to individual expats or companies with expat staff.

The second way is directly from private international health insurance providers, specialising in expat care in Nigeria, such as William Russell. 

Since we’re the ones writing this article, we’re going to show you how William Russell health insurance works in Nigeria and how you can get started. 

How to get private international health insurance in Nigeria with William Russell

William Russell is a private, family-run international insurance provider designed for expatriates across the globe.

Our boutique-style company has been providing income protection, life, and health insurance plans to expats worldwide since 1992. William Russell can cover you if you’re a Nigerian national living in Nigeria or if you’re living, working, or retiring as an expat in Nigeria. We can provide cover even if Nigeria is your base but you spend much of the year travelling overseas.

William Russell can give you health insurance coverage in Nigeria that ranges from catastrophic and emergency health care to routine medical exams. Cover from William Russell includes:

  • Maternity care (e.g., pregnancy, childbirth)
  • Dental care
  • Emergency evacuation (medevac)
  • In-patient and out-patient care
  • Doctor visits and specialist consultations
  • When you’re admitted to hospital
  • Cancer treatment and care

You can choose one of our four plans: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver and Gold (the more precious the metal, the more comprehensive the plan). For example, if you’re a student and want standard coverage in case of emergencies, you could choose the Bronze plan. Instead, if you’re moving to Nigeria for work and bringing your spouse and children, you can choose complete coverage and greater security with our Gold plan. 

All plans provide coverage for serious illnesses or injuries. If you have a life-threatening or limb-threatening condition and the treatment you need isn’t available locally, we’ll evacuate you to the nearest suitable location.

You can personalise your plan so you’re sure to only be paying for what you’d need. There are also different areas of coverage you can choose. To change the areas you’re covered for, you’d need to fill in a new application form and pay a higher or lower premium. 

With William Russell, you can start your health insurance services at any time, whether you’re about to move to Nigeria or you’re already there. You can get started by taking a quick quote in as little as 30 seconds and have an active plan ready within 48 hours. 

Why choose William Russell for your expat health insurance in Nigeria?

As a concierge-like service, we put our customers first at William Russell. You’ll always talk to a real person who is specialised to handle your plan. We cover members in 160+ countries and 96% of our customers renew their policies with us year after year.

 Here are the unique benefits you’ll enjoy as a member of William Russell with expat health insurance in Nigeria:

  • Personalised service. We’ll help you choose the level of coverage that’s right for you, your family, or your company so you can avoid paying for benefits you won’t use. 
  • Human support. You’ll receive one-on-one contact with our in-house support specialists, without having to deal with outsourced call centres. 
  • Specialised support team. A team of specialists for emergency, maternity, and cancer claims. You’ll have the support of experts as soon as you make your first claim. 
  • English-speaking specialists. Your host country may not speak your language, so it’s important to have a medical point of contact that can speak English. All our specialists are in-house and fluent in English.
  • Best hospitals. We have long-standing partnerships with top medical facilities across the world. Even in an emergency, you’ll receive top-notch service delivery with William Russell. 
  • Easy-to-understand policies. There’s no obscure wording or clauses in our policies or plans. Our plans are simple and short, so you can understand them quickly. Check out our health plans for Nigeria
  • Easy claim process. Our forms are available online, straightforward, and easy to fill. 
  • 24-hour emergency helpline. We’re always available at the touch of a button, no matter where you are. 
  • A variety of plans and coverage options. You’ll have 4 plans to choose from, ranging from our most basic plan for those who just want minimum coverage to our most comprehensive for those who want complete security. The areas we cover can also vary, from the most comprehensive to only specific regions.
  • Leading insurance company. You’ll also have the extra security of the Allianz group, our top-rated international insurer and partner since 2002.

Who is William Russell best for?

We work with a wide variety of individuals and businesses in Nigeria and beyond. We can cover: 

  • International students
  • Self-employed digital nomads
  • Retirees living or planning to move overseas
  • Any expat with temporary or permanent plans to move and live in Nigeria
  • Professionals who work and live abroad
  • Frequent flyers who travel extensively, plan to be in Nigeria, and whose travel insurance policy doesn’t provide adequate medical coverage
  • Small, medium, and large-sized enterprises with employees in Nigeria or located in various African countries, including Nigeria
  • Nigerian citizens looking for private medical insurance.

We’ll help you choose the level of coverage that is right for you, your family, or your company – we’ll be your trusted insurance partner and offer a comprehensive international health insurance experience.

Get a quote today!

William Russell have been working in Africa for more than 30 years
Find out how expats living in Africa can make a claim

How does health insurance work in Nigeria?

Quality healthcare in Nigeria has limitations. Many diseases that are rarely seen in the developed world still cause deaths in Nigeria, including cholera, tetanus and polio, malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis.

Though Nigeria has a universal National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), few hospitals offer the quality of facilities, equipment, and trained medical professionals you might expect in the western world. In Nigeria, the key cities people go to for treatment are Lagos, Kano and Abuja.

Expats moving to Nigeria can purchase private international health insurance. Expat health insurance can cover your everyday medical needs while staying in the country, including coverage for expatriation to countries with better medical facilities for more serious health issues, such as life and limb-threatening conditions.

How does the Nigerian healthcare system compare to other countries?

Though the country has a universal healthcare system, public healthcare in Nigeria is severely underfunded. The Nigerian government only puts approximately 3% of the country’s GDP toward healthcare facilities, medication, research, and training. When you consider the average 9.7% of GDP that other countries worldwide put toward healthcare, you can see that the public health system in Nigeria may fall short of what you’re used to in your home country.

It’s important to understand how universal health coverage in Nigeria works and how the government funds it before moving to the country. This can help you decide whether or not to invest in private healthcare for you, your family, or your employees.

Is healthcare paid for in Nigeria?

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Nigeria’s government-funded universal health system, started in 1999 to provide accessible healthcare to all Nigerian citizens. Unfortunately, because of the lack of healthcare funding in Nigeria, the national system has limited resources and often cannot provide sufficient healthcare, even for minor conditions.

Who funds healthcare in Nigeria?

The government uses general tax revenue to fund the health sector in Nigeria. The healthcare system receives further health financing through:

The FSSHIP works as a community-based scheme. It pools contributions from employees and employers, amounting to 1.75% and 3.5% respectively of the employee’s consolidated salary. The Formal Sector includes any public sector or organised private-sector business employing 10 or more people. It also includes the armed forces, the police, and other uniformed services. Contributions cover health care benefits for the employee, a spouse, and up to four biological children under the age of 18. They also cover students in full-time tertiary education. 

As an expat, you (or your employer) will probably not be participating in the FSSHIP. This means you’ll incur out-of-pocket expenses for using Nigerian medical facilities.

How much does NHIS cost in Nigeria?

If you’re not eligible for the NHIS through your employer or educational institution, it’s possible to become a voluntary member of the programme. You can do this through the NHIS website.

It costs around US$35 to register as a voluntary contributor to social health insurance in Nigeria, plus US$23 per person you wish to cover. This fee will renew automatically every year.

Are hospitals free in Nigeria?

General hospitals and emergency health services are free in Nigeria for anyone covered under NHIS. However, the NHIS will give you the standard level of medical care, which may be below the standards of your home country.

3 know-before-you-go tips on healthcare in Nigeria

The NHIS is only available to those in full-time employment in private companies with 10+ employees and in public service roles, where employees contribute to the healthcare scheme. However, legal residents can contribute to the NHIS through a voluntary paid programme. As an expat, you may not be eligible to register for the NHIS, unless you’re a legal resident. 

Despite having a national health insurance scheme, only around 4% of the Nigerian population have formal health insurance. With unemployment around 25% and many Nigerians making a living in the informal sector (e.g., in agriculture or manual labour), universal healthcare coverage is widely inaccessible and many people incur out-of-pocket costs. 

With this in mind, here are 3 aspects you’ll want to consider when living in Nigeria as an expat:

1. Healthcare in Nigeria might be expensive

Being Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria has one of the highest densities of medical doctors in West Africa. However, with just 3.8 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, Nigerian medical services often cannot meet public demand.

Because of this, many Nigerians and expats in Nigeria have to pay for medicine and treatments out of pocket, which can be expensive. In 2019, healthcare made up approximately 6% of household spending – higher in rural areas than in cities.

2. The quality of healthcare might not be top level

Even if you can access primary healthcare centres in Nigeria, you may not get the treatment or medicines you need. The quality of healthcare in Nigeria is poor for several reasons, including: 

  • Lack of government funding 
  • Poor pay for doctor and nurses (the best of whom seek employment in other countries) 
  • Regular strikes from healthcare professionals who want better pay and more investments in the healthcare sector

As a result, hospitals in Nigeria are unhygienic and often overcrowded, leading to infectious diseases spreading freely, with many Nigerians dying from diseases they contracted while in hospital.

3. Private healthcare in Nigeria is a better option

Private healthcare in Nigeria is a step up from under-resourced public services. The overall quality of treatment in a private hospital or clinic is better, but more expensive. And you still may not find the same standard of health care you might expect from your home country.

As an expat living and working in Nigeria, consider investing in private international health insurance. Private health insurance will allow you to access Nigeria’s private healthcare, without having to worry about the excessive costs of emergency medical services or access to routine medications. 

A good international insurance policy will also ensure access to emergency evacuation for medical treatment for more serious health issues, such as life and limb-threatening conditions that can’t be treated locally.

What happens if the country you’re in can’t provide you with the medical treatment you need?
Find out more about emergency medical evacuations


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about expat healthcare in Nigeria.

How can I get the best healthcare in Nigeria as an expat?

If you want access to healthcare of a Western standard, you’re going to need private international health insurance.

You should also know that medical institutions in Nigeria expect payment for healthcare upfront and costs can quickly add up in an emergency. For out-patient treatment, you’ll need to cover the cost of medical care yourself before applying for reimbursement. For in-patient treatment, William Russell will pay your hospital bills directly. 

How much does international health insurance for expats cost in Nigeria?

The price of international health insurance will vary depending on your needs, medical history, destination(s), and the number of people you want to cover. For example, a monthly premium for a 30-year-old purchasing health insurance in Nigeria would cost US$109 for our Bronze plan or US$201 for our Silver plan. 

At William Russell, we offer four international health insurance plans you can personalise: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver and Gold. You can also include optional add-ons for anything more personal to you and your family. Explore our health insurance packages and get a free quote here.

What should expats do before moving to Nigeria?

Moving to any new country can be a culture shock. But Nigeria can be challenging for British expats because of its tropical climate, crowded cities, and areas of poverty.

Before moving to Nigeria, it’s helpful to read up on the country’s customs and culture to help you settle in and minimise the effects of culture shock. It’s also important to know about the cost of living, getting jobs and visas, and health insurance.

There are a growing number of expat communities in Nigeria. Getting in touch with one via Meta or an online community forum could be a useful way to make initial connections and find out more about life there.

Read our guide: Living In Nigeria: A Guide To Moving To Nigeria As An Expat

Choose William Russell for your international health insurance in Nigeria

Whether you’re in the planning stages or already on site, we hope you’ve found this guide on international health insurance in Nigeria useful. 

Getting an international health insurance plan from William Russell will give you the peace of mind that you can get the medical care you deserve when you need it.

For 30+ years, we have helped expats like you move and settle into their new lives overseas, with the assurance that their families are covered by a comprehensive and flexible health insurance policy.

Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance from William Russell could give you and your family the best possible healthcare in Nigeria.

Looking for international health insurance that covers you in Nigeria?

Learn more about our plans