Delays and Unmet Need for Health Care Among Adult Primary Care Patients in a Restructured Urban Public Health System
Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 94, no. 5, May 2004, p. 783-789
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003
OBJECTIVES: The authors estimated the prevalence and determinants of delayed and unmet needs for medical care among patients in a restructured public health system. METHODS: The authors conducted a stratified cross-sectional probability sample of primary care patients in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1819 adult patients in 6 languages. The response rate was 80%. The study sample was racially/ethnically diverse. RESULTS: Thirty-three percent reported delaying needed medical care during the preceding 12 months; 25% reported an unmet need for care because of competing priorities; and 46% had either delayed or gone without care. CONCLUSIONS: Barriers to needed health care continue to exist among patients receiving care through a large safety net system. Competing priorities for basic necessities and lack of insurance contribute importantly to unmet health care needs.