POLYGAMY, LARGE FAMILIES AND HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS IN NIGERIA: EXAMINING SOME LEGAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC CONSIDERATIONS
The Nigerian National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) established (amongst other regimes) a contributory arrangement between public sector workers (PSWs) and governments as employers for accessing health care services. This arrangement which can be regarded as social welfare support for families of public sector workers is part of the government's application or implementation of the principles of the right of access to healthcare (affordability, accessibility, availability and quality) to the citizenry. One identifiable problem with the Scheme relates to the limitation placed on the number of family members who may benefit from the scheme under a worker-enrolee. For the PSW-enrolee, the scheme operates a 'closed-closed-open' regime that limits the enrolee's registrable family to a spouse and four biological children. While permitting an addition or a substitution of family members, this comes as an additional financial burden and the procedural difficulties besetting the exercise to make the right illusory. Our analyses show that, this restriction does not reflect the legal, socio-cultural/demographic, and economic dynamics of families in Nigeria in its deference to the monogamous nuclear and 'small' family structure. The article argues that, this dispensation questions the place of polygamous and larger families under the Nigerian legal system because it appears to dismiss these family structures as being either unlawful or at least unideal and indirectly enforces a non-existing 'national population policy' for public sector workers.
Right to Health, Right to Healthcare, Polygamy, National Health Insurance Scheme, Large Families