If you’ve ever gotten bad news from a doctor, you know how gut-wrenching and confusing it can be.
While you’re trying to process a scary diagnosis, the last thing on your mind is how much the treatment is going to cost or whether your doctor actually knows what he’s talking about.
Robert Sobieray, an auto worker, was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He decided to blindly trust his doctor, a man named Dr. Farid Fata. That turned out to be a mistake.
On Fata’s advice, Sobieray began taking a powerful chemotherapy drug that caused his teeth to start breaking off and falling out.
As it turned out, Sobieray didn’t have cancer at all—he was being scammed. Each chemotherapy pill he took translated to $120 in Fata’s pocket from Sobieray’s insurance provider.
Fata was convicted of health care fraud and was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison for taking in more than $17 billion in fraudulent payments. He was convicted of fooling more than 550 patients and their family members.
In addition to his criminal charges, Fata must pay millions to victims who sued him in civil court.
Of course, schemes like this one are rare. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a second opinion when you hear bad news or are considering an expensive surgery or treatment.
A doctor you can trust will likely suggest you get a second opinion if they notice you are concerned, cardiologist Neica Goldberg told CNBC.
Goldberg, who directs the Joan Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CNBC that you should gather all of your medical records from your first doctor before visiting a second doctor. This helps them understand the complete picture, she said.
And, if you’re worried that getting a second opinion might cost you, call your insurance provider. Many will authorize and cover a second appointment if you chat with them. Goldberg said many employers will also offer to pay for a second opinion as an employee benefit.