Following a 1999 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said that the health benefits of circumcision were not significant enough to make the procedure mandatory, Medicaid programs began dropping coverage. Ever since, new parents in 16 states have been discovering that getting it done anyway will run about $300. According to a January report by researchers at UCLA, the cost has had a serious impact: the circumcision rate in states offering coverage for it is, on average, 24 percent higher than in the states that don't. And that's based on data only through 2004, the most current year available; with unemployment rising and more Americans turning to public insurance, the disparity can be expected to grow. "The $300 is a luxury," says Dr. Andrew Freedman, director of pediatric urology at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "For many people [it] is an insurmountable barrier."
Summers' story also quotes Dr. Renee Stein of St. Louis' own St. John's Mercy Medical Center.
Confirming that circumcision rates also correlate somewhat to regions, Dr. Stein tells Summers that in the Midwest, "We whack 'em all."
Summers notes that the AAP is taking a new look at the 1999 report, and that his sources say the medical panel "is likely to feature a stronger endorsement of circumcision" in light of its effectiveness in combating the transmission of HIV.
Heck while we're at it, the AP recently reported on a new study, whose results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that found circumcision significantly reduces the incidence of many sexually transmitted diseases besides HIV.
To whack or not to whack? That is the question.