Ronald A. Williams, Aetna’s chairman and CEO, and Troyen A. Brennan, Aetna’s chief medical officer, have an op-ed in today’s Washington Post regarding health-care reform. See if you can spot the flaw here:
…we do not pay for care that is unnecessary according to the best evidence-based guidelines produced by medicine.
Now, journey over to the Aetna’s list of eligible health care expenses and scroll down to the blurb on circumcision, where you’ll find an “X” under “Covered”:
Amounts paid for infant circumcision are qualified medical expenses, even when performed by a rabbi in the home.
According to Aetna, performing unnecessary surgery on children is somehow “evidence-based”. The absence of medical need is somehow “evidence-based”. Parental preference because the foreskin is “icky” or “ugly” or any other irrational opinion parents may have about the body of their child, the patient, it’s still “evidence-based”.
Medically unnecessary genital cutting of infants is not evidence-based, no matter how many potential benefits Mr. Williams and Mr. Brennan can name. (Or how many potential complications and actual results they can ignore.) If they believe there’s evidence to support routine infant circumcision, it’s clear that their medical incompetence extends to ethical incompetence. It’s irrational to place the lack of medical need to the patient (i.e. the one having his genitals cut unnecessarily) below the desire to accommodate parental whims.