MIAMI
12/10/2013 03:39 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Florida Circumcision Costs Skyrocket After State Stops Funding Procedure At Infancy

Roger Wright via Getty Images

This has to hurt: more and more older boys are getting circumcised in Florida.

After Florida terminated Medicaid funding for infant circumcision, circumcision costs to the state have skyrocketed to more than double previous levels.

That's according to a study from University of Florida Health researchers including Dr. Saleem Islam, an associate professor of pediatric surgery who believes the state's decision to stop funding infant circumcision has led to an increase of more expensive circumcisions on older boys.

Florida is among 18 states that ceased Medicaid funding for infant circumcision after a 1999 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics declared the procedure may not be medically necessary.

Now, Medicaid coverage is available in Florida only for older males for whom the procedure is deemed medically imperative, such as those who have suffered repeated infections.

But the procedure is far more cost-effective on babies, according to Dr. Islam. “The benefits are that the child does not have to undergo general anesthesia, there is much less cost to public monies, it’s safer for the kids to get it done and that’s the right age, as well,” Islam said in a statement.

The state stop paying for infant circumcision in 2003. That year, yearly Medicaid costs for circumcision in boys 17 and under was $14.9 million according to the UF study; by 2008 expenses had shot to $33.6 million. Privately funded circumcisions during the same period increased only $4.8 million.

Last August, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy, declaring that the health benefits of infant circumcision -- which may even include protection against HIV, urinary tract infections, and penile cancer -- outweigh the risks of the surgery. Reports the Daily Beast:

“There’s enough medical evidence to suggest we shouldn’t have been neutral before,” says Dr. Michael Brady, a member of the AAP’s circumcision task force, who allows that by not recognizing procedural health benefits in previous reports, the AAP gave Medicaid the opportunity to decline payment. “Now, we’re clearly stating that third-party payers and Medicaid should cover circumcision so that parents aren’t having the decision made for them.”

But Florida has not reversed its Medicaid policies.

"It would make a lot of sense to offer [newborn circumcision] to families who otherwise perhaps may not be able to afford it," Islam said, "and then say, 'Here, we are offering it to you when your child is a newborn. You have a choice to make here. If you choose to get it done now, there are a lot of benefits over having it done later.'"

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