Objectives: This article examines recent trends in self-reported unmet health care needs among the household population aged 12 or older, and explores various explanations for the increase observed.
Data sources: The data are from the first half (September 2000 through February 2001) of data collection for cycle 1.1 of the Canadian Community Health Survey and from cross-sectional (1994/95 through 1998/99) household components of the National Population Health Survey.
Analytical techniques: Weighted frequencies and cross-tabulations were used to estimate the proportion of people aged 12 or older who reported that they did not receive health care when they thought they needed it. Estimates were also produced for the type of care sought, and specific reasons for unmet health care needs.
Main results: The percentage of people reporting unmet health care needs rose gradually between 1994/95 and 1998/99, then doubled (from 6% to over 12%) between 1998/99 and 2000/01. Long waiting time was the reason most frequently reported for unmet needs.