A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on Feb. 14 found that during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 percent of Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 had difficulty accessing health-care services, and 8 percent did not go to a hospital or see a doctor when needed.
Immigrants and individuals with chronic conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, heart, lung, kidney, liver, or pancreas failure, autoimmune disorder, pneumonia, and human immunodeficiency virus, were more likely to experience challenges obtaining health care and were less likely to visit the hospital or see a doctor.
The study also found that people experienced different barriers to health care depending on factors such as race, sex, age, education, income levels, and region. For example, older adults had less access to health care, those from lower income levels were less likely to visit the hospital or see a doctor when needed, and females and non-Caucasian participants were less likely to access medical care.
In addition, Ontario residents reported the most challenges accessing health care and COVID testing, while Quebec residents were more likely to not go to the hospital or see their doctor. Four percent of participants reported having issues obtaining testing for SARS-CoV-2.
The study concluded that unmet health care needs during the pandemic may have serious implications on patient care and potentially enduring consequences.