Mission Moments: Health insurance a passion for outreach specialist

Sylvia Brown lives insurance.

As an assister who helps community members sign up for insurance on the marketplace or through government channels, Brown knows when open enrollment comes around in the fall, she will be fielding lots of insurance inquiries.

“Off hours, after hours, weekends – you have to help when you get the call, so if it’s 7 or 8 p.m., that just means I’m hopping on the laptop to walk someone through it,” said Brown, who has been helping community members with marketplace enrollment since its inception in 2014.

After open enrollment began this fall, Brown received a phone call from a woman who was worried about the high cost of insurance premiums through her employer.

Brown walked her through why it was going to be more cost effective to stay with the employer’s health plan – but insurance can be complex, and she knew the woman would benefit from coming in after work to go through it in person. While she was at it, she helped the woman understand other benefit fundamentals, such as the difference between a health savings account and a flexible spending account – and how those could help her meet her health care goals.

“Even though I knew it wasn’t going to change the outcome and it was going to be a late evening, I wanted to take the time to sit with her and go through numbers with her so that she had peace of mind that she was making the right choices for herself and her family,” Brown said.

She makes her personal phone number easily accessible on social media – and has become a bit of the go-to guru on insurance for her family and friends as well.

Brown is so committed because she knows all too well the difference that insurance can make for a family.

“As a young single mother of small children, having to provide coverage by myself for my kids, there was one time my daughter jumped off the bed and cracked her head on the dresser,” Brown recalled. “I was so thankful I had budgeted to have insurance – so I know firsthand how important health coverage is and I also know there are so many consumers out there are in need of information.”

Tucson Medical Center earlier this year adopted a new mission statement. To celebrate, we are sharing an ongoing series of “mission moments.”

What are mission moments? They aren’t necessarily dramatic stories of heroism, although our medical staff saves lives every day. These are moments that breathe life into words – moments that are profound or powerful or touching and that remind us why we do the work we do. Hundreds of these reminders happen every day. Thank you for letting us share some with you.

Do you have a TMC mission moment you’d like to share? Send it to Communications@tmcaz.com.

An annual physical: Do you really need one?

Dr. William Abraham Board-Certified, Internal Medicine TMC One

Dr. William Abraham
Board-Certified, Internal Medicine
TMC One

You’re healthy. You take good care of yourself and have no real ailments. Do you really need to make an appointment for an annual physical? “Absolutely,” said Dr. William Abraham, a board-certified internal medicine physician with TMC One, formerly Saguaro Physicians. “There are a number of medical problems that do not necessarily cause symptoms or obvious physical changes that someone without medical training may not recognize,” said Dr. Abraham. “These problems can often be detected during a physical, which is why it’s so important to see your primary care practitioner once a year.”

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, for example, is referred to as “the silent killer.” It oftentimes goes undetected, and can lead to a heart attack, stroke and even kidney failure. But it can be detected during a routine medical exam. Diabetes, or high blood sugar, can also cause those complications along with an assortment of other potentially devastating ones. How is it detected? A simple blood test. Also in this category – high cholesterol. It never causes symptoms, but can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Oftentimes people may not realize they have high cholesterol until it’s too late and they have suffered something catastrophic.

A routine blood test can also detect anemia, which can be a sign of undetected bleeding, malnutrition, vitamin B12 deficiency or numerous other possible illnesses. And it can easily detect other metabolic abnormalities such as decreased kidney function.

A once-a-year check of your heart also makes getting a physical invaluable. “When a practitioner listens to your heart or performs an electrocardiogram, they can detect heart disease such as atrial fibrillation. This common, irregular heart rhythm increases the risk of stroke but can be treated with medication to reduce your risk,” explained Dr. Abraham.

Your primary care practitioner can also examine your skin at a screening exam – a good way to detect pre-cancers and cancers of the skin, particularly in areas that are hard for someone to see on their own body, like their back or the top of their head.

One part of the Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies cover 100 percent of an annual physical so that no co-pay is required, even with high-deductible insurance policies. The only exception is Medicare and certain Medicare managed care plans. It’s best to check with your insurance company about your coverage.

Dr. Abraham has more than 30 years of experience and is available for same-day appointments including annual physicals if you are finding it difficult to get in to your regular provider.

His office is located at 1396 N. Wilmot Road in Tucson, 85712.
Call (520) 324-2160 to make an appointment.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461