If the 20-year trend in declining circumcision rates continues, the nation could be forced to spend $4.4 billion in avoidable health care costs over the next decade if rates drop to levels currently seen in Europe, according to a new study out of Johns Hopkins University. “Senior study investigator, health epidemiologist and pathologist Aaron Tobian, M.D., Ph.D., says that roughly 55 percent of the 2 million males born each year in the United States are circumcised, a decline from a high of 79 percent in the 1970s and ’80s.” State funding cuts to Medicaid are partly to blame as 18 states have now stopped paying for the procedure.
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What’s the Big Idea?
In estimating the $4.4 billion figure, Johns Hopkins physicians calculated only the direct costs for drug treatment, physician visits and hospital care, excluding secondary costs resulting from work absences and medical travel expenses. “[T]he study is believed to be the first cost analysis to account for increased rates of multiple infectious diseases associated with lower rates of male circumcision, including HIV/AIDS, herpes and genital warts, as well as cervical and penile cancers.” Tobian insists that in addition to guarding against illness and disease, there are clear financial benefits to male circumcision.