Circumcision Not Cost-Effective Says Study

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Circumcision increases health-care costs and decreases wellness. Insurance companies would be better off PAYING parents and doctors to NOT circumcise boys.

Circumcision increases health-care costs and decreases wellness according to a cost-utility analysis by Robert S. Van Howe, MD, MS, FAAP, Department of Pediatrics, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Marquette, Michigan, in the latest edition of Medical Decision Making journal.

“If neonatal circumcision was cost-free, pain-free, and had no immediate complications, it was still more costly than not circumcising,” says Van Howe. “Neonatal circumcision is not good health policy, and support for it as a medical procedure cannot be justified financially or medically.”

Over the past century, some doctors have said circumcision benefits the boy later in life and is therefore justifiable as a prophylactic procedure. According to the findings of this study that isn’t true. Wellness decreases as a result and with that goes an increase in health-care related expenses.

Circumcision costs everyone since both Medicaid and Medicare cover infant circumcision and its complications later in life. Medicaid pays for 28% of all infant circumcisions in the United States. Thirteen states do not cover circumcision in their Medicaid programs.

The analysis is based on published data from multiple observational studies, comparing boys circumcised at birth and those not circumcised, using the Quality of Well-being Scale, a Markov analysis, the standard reference case, and a societal perspective. Neonatal circumcision increased incremental costs by $828.42 per patient and resulted in an incremental 15.30 well-years lost per 1000 males. The only ones to gain from this unnecessary and harmful surgery are the attending physicians and hospitals.

ICGI has created a task force to discuss calling for a nationwide moratorium on the routine circumcision of baby boys based on this article's conclusion, and other bioethical concerns.

No experiment or random control trial has ever proven any of the alleged benefits to routinely circumcising baby boys. Circumcision of girls is considered a human rights violation and is illegal in the United States. Prophylactic tonsillectomy is no longer practiced, but was equally popular as circumcision in the United States medical community.

Dr. Robert Van Howe may be contacted at 906-228-7454. Contact ICGI for his email address.

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