Purpose: We studied the costs of newborn circumcision in relation to its health benefits later in life.
Materials and methods: We conducted a retrospective database analysis using direct internal cost data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California-a large health maintenance organization-and published cost data (including the cost of medically indicated postneonatal circumcision). The study cohort consisted of 14,893 male infants born in 1996. One-way sensitivity analysis was used to demonstrate the impact of selected variables in the model. Monte Carlo analysis was used to determine the 95% confidence intervals.
Results: Postneonatal circumcision was 10 times as expensive as neonatal circumcision (1,921 dollars per infant vs 165 dollars per newborn), and was medically indicated for 9.6% of uncircumcised males. Cost benefits of circumcision resulted from prevention of infant urinary tract infection, balanoposthitis, phimosis, HIV infection and penile cancer. Assuming initial neonatal circumcision cost to be 200 dollars, the future health care cost offset (avoided) was calculated as 183 dollars (range 93 dollars to 303 dollars in 95% of simulations).
Conclusions: Multiple lifetime medical benefits of neonatal circumcision can be achieved at little or no cost. Because postneonatal circumcision is so expensive, its rate is the most important factor determining future cost savings from newborn circumcision.