Declining Rates Of Infant Circumcision Could Increase Health Costs

In a study published yesterday, researchers at Johns Hopkins University warn that the recent decline in the U.S.’s infant circumcision rates could lead to billions of dollars in additional medical costs when uncircumcised boys grow up to become sexually active men. The researchers estimated that every infant boy who does not undergo circumcision will incur increased lifetime medical expenses, particularly for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases they may be more likely to experience. According to the CDC, rates of infant circumcision in the U.S. has fallen from around 80 percent in the 1980s to less than 55 percent in 2010, partly due to the fact that Americans remain sharply divided on the issue of circumcision. But the decline may also be partially attributed to the fact that 18 states have eliminated Medicaid coverage for circumcision to save costs, since many physicians consider the procedure to be merely cosmetic. The senior author of the Johns Hopkins study disagrees, maintaining that “the federal Medicaid program should reclassify circumcision from an optional service to one all states should cover.”