Governments in low- and middle-income countries are legitimizing the implementation of universal health coverage (UHC), following a United Nation’s resolution on UHC in 2012 and its reinforcement in the sustainable development goals set in 2015. UHC will differ in each country depending on country contexts and needs, as well as demand and supply in health care. Therefore, fundamental issues such as objectives, users and cost–effectiveness of UHC have been raised by policy-makers and stakeholders. While priority-setting is done on a daily basis by health authorities – implicitly or explicitly – it has not been made clear how priority-setting for UHC should be conducted. We provide justification for explicit health priority-setting and guidance to countries on how to set priorities for UHC.