Lead author Arleen A. Leibowitz of the University of California, Los Angeles Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services and the UCLA AIDS Institute, said male circumcision has been shown to lead to substantial health benefits in later life.
"State Medicaid plans that attempt to reduce costs in the short run by not covering the cost of infant male circumcision may be generating higher healthcare costs for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections in the future," Leibowitz said in a statement.
The study, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that in hospitals in the 16 states where the procedure is not covered, circumcision rates were 24 percentage points lower than at hospitals in other states, with lower rates particularly prevalent among Hispanics.
The 16 states without Medicaid coverage for male circumcision are: California, Oregon, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Washington, Missouri, Arizona, North Carolina, Montana, Utah, Florida, Maine, Louisiana, Idaho and Minnesota.
The UCLA researchers studied information on about 417,000 routine discharges of newborn males from 683 U.S. hospitals.