Maintaining or improving the welfare of the population is a complex issue involving individual and collective actions and institutions. Despite questions regarding the relevance of health care systems to these aims, they remain vital policy and treatment arenas with respect to curative and preventative regimes. As a component of social welfare, health care resources should be distributed equitably, according to need for health care. This paper evaluates alternative indicators of health status within Ontario against self-reported health as a means of allocating health care resources. Proxies of need for health care include standardized mortality ratios (based on the population aged 0-64) and a socioeconomic based indicator. Mortality indicators are found to be more closely correlated with self-reported health status than the socioeconomic indicator, suggesting that mortality is better able to reflect variations in health status and health care needs.