"Either they see the patient, and say, this is beyond what I can do in my private office, with limited resources, or they talk to the patient on the phone and say I'm concerned about your symptoms," Sama said.
"Or they know the patient has complex problems with subtle symptoms that can mean grievous issues, and they send them to us because we can do the diagnostic testing rapidly, or call on a colleague or specialist to get more detail."
It's true that many physicians across the country are not willing to see Medicaid patients or those with no insurance. Additionally, some physicians' schedules require appointments booked months in advance, as they intersperse office visit care with time on call or performing procedures.
Simply having more physicians in primary care settings willing to see patients in all income brackets and levels of insurance will help, Sama says, but it won't solve the problem.
Sama is the senior vice president for emergency services at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System.