Will falling circumcision rates in the United States negatively impact the cost of health care in the country? While reading up on the recent controversy surround the 2012 AAP Circumcision Policy, I read an argument in favor of routine infant circumcision (RIC) that made me pause:
“The Los Angeles Times recently cited a study predicting that as the number of circumcisions goes down in the US, the cost of health care will steadily climb. Eryn Brown reported that ‘If circumcision rates were to fall to 10%…lifetime health costs for all the babies born in a year would go up by $505 million. That works out to $313 in added costs for every circumcision that doesn’t happen.”
Although I do not agree that cost should be a factor when deciding to needlessly mutilate the genitals of a newborn baby, I decided to research the claim a little more.
Although circumcision advocates attempt to scare the overly trusting public into believing that not circumcising will cost millions and millions in health care costs every year, the truth is that RIC even more. According to Saving Babies and the International Coalition for Genital Integrity (both of which are admittedly anti-RIC), circumcision costs on average $704.83 to $1,428 per procedure. Both of these estimates include the stay in the hospital. Another source, Healthcare Fees, lists the cost of circumcision as ranging from as low as $105 to as high as $1,420. Neither of those numbers include related costs such as the required hospital stay.
Based on these figures, the average cost of a circumcision costs $766.50.
At an average of $766.50 per circumcision, the cost of not circumcising is well below the average of $313 that the pro-circumcision fearmongers cite. Furthermore, based on the $313 figure, circumcising actually costs the country twice as much in health care costs as not circumcising, never mind the ethical costs.
Even if the costs of circumcision were lower than the costs of not circumcising, the financial benefits would not outweigh the physical and emotional risks of RIC. Based on the same logic, one could argue that the cost of mastectomy is lower than the cost of treating breast cancer, and, therefore, all women should have their breasts removed to prevent the increased costs of breast cancer treatment. However and rightfully so, no one is suggesting that all women should undergo the surgical removal of their breasts as a way to reduce the risk of disease. The same should be true of boys and the surgical removal of the foreskin.
Will not circumcising increase health care costs in the United States. No. And, even if the argument were true, the surgical amputation of healthy, functioning tissue from an unconsenting minor should never be a way to lower costs.
As circumcision declines, health costs will go up, study projects: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/21/science/la-sci-circumcision-health-costs-20120821
Circumcision procedure: http://www.healthcarefees.com/2012/02/circumcision-procedure/
Cost of circumcision: http://www.icgi.org/information/cost-of-circumcisions/
Dollars & sense: The business of circumcision: http://saving-babies.blogspot.com/2011/08/dollars-sense-business-of-circumcision.html
Germany’s circumcision police: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444914904577617890217160090.html