Will Utah Medicaid cover circumcision costs?

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An Aug. 27 story by the Deseret News reports that Utah Medicaid officials are in discussions to add circumcision coverage in an effort to eliminate the financial barrier preventing parents from choosing circumcision for their sons.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has been neutral on the issue of circumcision until recently. The AAP released a statement finding the “health benefits of newborn male circumcision (to) outweigh the risks . …” The findings do not go far enough to recommend universal infant male circumcision, but it does say that it should be an affordable choice left to the parents.

Anna Valenzuela, 24, a BYU alum from Aloha, Ore., chose to have her son, Noah, circumcised after he was born, even though the procedure isn’t covered by insurance.

“At first, I just assumed that we were doing it because everyone circumcises their kids,” Valenzuela said. “But circumcision is an optional (procedure), so they don’t pay for it and it’s like $175 . …  After we kind of looked into it, we found that it was beneficial to have our baby circumcised than to not have him circumcised. So, we just felt like the pros outweigh the cons of circumcision. We just felt like it was a really good decision, and in the long-run that he would benefit from it more, and that’s why we did it.”

According to one federal estimate, infant male circumcision has declined in the United States to 54.5 percent in 2009 from 62.7 percent in 1999. Opposition to circumcision has risen recently, with those who oppose circumcision stating that no one, even parents, should have the right to make the decision to remove a functioning body part from another person.

Stefanie Long, a 20-year-old student at UVU studying ballet, is among those who have decided never to have her sons circumcised.

“It’s wrong to decide on such a procedure for someone else,” Long said. “Let them grow up a little and decide for themselves what improvements they feel their body needs. There’s no need for circumcision.”

Benjamin Carlson, a senior studying manufacturing engineering  from North Salt Lake, didn’t seem to mind that he didn’t get to make his own decision regarding whether he was circumcised as an infant. “It’s just cleaner,” Carlson said. “So, I don’t know why anyone would care.”

In the most recent study from the AAP, the specific benefits of circumcision include prevention of urinary tract infections and some sexually transmitted infections; circumcision may also prevent the contraction of HIV and reduce the occurrence of penile cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quoted in the Deseret News claiming circumcision is a “societal, cost-saving HIV prevention intervention” and that “financial barriers that prevent parents from having the choice to circumcise their male newborns should be reduced or eliminated.”

“I would totally want it covered by insurance,” Valenzuela said. “I feel like if I have another baby boy, I’m still gonna want to circumcise him now that I know a little bit more about it and that it’s more beneficial than not doing it,” she said.

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