KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study: Declining Rates Of Circumcisions Among Infants Could Drive Up Health Costs

Johns Hopkins researchers examine the 20-year decline in male circumcision rates and assert it could raise medical costs related to sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems.

Los Angeles Times: As Circumcision Declines, Health Costs Will Go Up, Study Projects
Declining rates of circumcision among infants will translate into billions of dollars of unnecessary medical costs in the U.S. as these boys grow up and become sexually active men, researchers at Johns Hopkins University warned (Brown, 8/21).

Baltimore Sun: Johns Hopkins Researchers Say Decline In Circumcisions Costing The Health Care System Billions
A 20-year decline in male circumcision has cost the country $2 billion in medical costs that could have been prevented, Johns Hopkins researchers say in a study released Monday. In what is believed to be the first look at the economic impact of male circumcision on the health care system, the Hopkins scientists say that boys who are not circumcised are more prone to sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems over a lifetime that are costly to treat. "The economic evidence is backing up what we already know medically," said Dr. Aaron Tobian, a Hopkins health epidemiologist and pathologist and senior researcher on the study (Walker, 8/20).

Bloomberg: Declining Circumcision Rates In U.S. Raise Disease Risk
Infant boys in the U.S. are less likely to get circumcised now than in years past, a trend that leaves them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and may add billions of dollars to health-care costs, Johns Hopkins University researchers said.  About 55 percent of the 2 million males born each year in America are circumcised, a decrease from 79 percent in the 1980s, according to the report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The procedure, which removes the foreskin from the tip of the penis where bacteria and viruses accumulate, is linked to fewer cases of HIV, herpes, genital warts and genital cancers among men and their sexual partners (Cortez, 8/20).

Reuters: As Circumcision Rates Drop, Costs Increase: Study
As gaps in insurance coverage lead to fewer male babies being circumcised in the United States, related health costs could end up increasing by millions of dollars every year, a new study suggests. Using a model based on studies of the long-term health effects of circumcision, researchers predicted that the rate of urinary tract infections in male babies would more than double -- and the rate of HIV infections in men increase by 12 percent -- if only one in ten male newborns was circumcised nationwide (Pittman, 8/20).

Medpage Today: Health Costs May Rise With Drop In Circumcisions
One of the factors behind the fall (in numbers of boys undergoing circumcisions), the researchers noted, is that states are increasingly eliminating Medicaid coverage for circumcision; 18 no longer cover the procedure and others may follow suit (Smith, 8/20).

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