Robert Krughoff, then a U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare employee, became fed up after driving away from an auto repair shop for the third time and realizing he would have to go back for the same engine repair. He thought there ought to be a better way for consumers to find the best local services.
From the frustration of that bad experience, nonprofit Consumers’ Checkbook began as a resource to help consumers make more informed choices. We provide detailed quality and price ratings on local services and healthcare professionals while remaining independent from the businesses we report on.
Here’s how we’ve helped make the marketplace more consumer-friendly for 45 years.
Center for the Study of Services is founded.
Center for the Study of Services, Checkbook’s parent organization, is founded with a grant from Consumers Union and a lot of enthusiasm for helping people save time and money and avoid hassle.
Center for the Study of Services (CSS) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization with decades of experience in healthcare surveys, research, analysis, and reporting. We work with research organizations, federal agencies, health plans, healthcare providers, and state insurance exchanges to measure, report, and improve the experiences of healthcare consumers and patients.
The first edition of Washington Consumers’ Checkbook is published.
The first issue of Washington Consumers’ Checkbook is published with a focus on healthcare. It broke new ground; for example, Checkbook surveyed clergy for feedback about nursing homes and spoke with EMTs to learn more about emergency rooms.
Our methodology remains the same today—to determine a service provider or healthcare professional’s rating, we survey consumers and gather price data. Checkbook is still the only publication that supplies unbiased, detailed ratings of local businesses along with verified price information and advice.
Our website and publications never carry advertising, and we accept no referral fees from any companies or professionals we evaluate so there can be no question of bias.
The first Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees is published.
Checkbook published the first edition of the Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, a health insurance cost and quality comparison tool. It remains the go-to resource for thousands of employees and retirees as they choose their health coverage each year.
The first edition of Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook is published.
Checkbook headed west, establishing an office in San Francisco and publishing the first edition of Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook.
CarBargains, a new-car shopping service, launched.
Checkbook began offering CarBargains nationwide, a hassle-free car-buying service that makes dealers competitively bid for your business, scoring you the lowest price on a new car, guaranteed. CarBargains regularly saves consumers an average of $1,500 compared to other car-shopping service TrueCar.
Checkbook.org launched, giving consumers access to all ratings, advice, and price information anytime, anywhere.
Guide to Top Doctors is released.
Guide to Top Doctors is published to help consumers find physician specialists other doctors “would consider most desirable for care of a loved one.” Checkbook’s database reveals the names of physicians who were mentioned most often by other area physicians—and the number of times they were mentioned.
Checkbook expanded to include Boston, Chicago, Delaware Valley, Puget Sound, and Twin Cities.
Checkbook sued federal government for access to Medicare data.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, Checkbook sued the federal government to obtain Medicare data in order to evaluate physician performance on high-risk procedures. In 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would release data on Medicare payments to physicians.
Checkbook launched health plan comparison tools for state exchanges.
Work began on HealthPlanRatings.org, a health plan comparison tool that assists consumers shopping for health insurance on exchanges developed under the Affordable Care Act. Checkbook provides comparison tools for DC, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Checkbook won The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Plan Choice Challenge.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named Checkbook and its GuidetoHealthPlans.org the winner of its first “Plan Choice Challenge,” a nationwide competition to design a technology application that helps people choose health plans.
Using data obtained the previous year from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Checkbook analyzed more than 5 million surgeries done by more than 50,000 surgeons to create SurgeonRatings.org. This first-of-its-kind website helps consumers identify surgeons with the best patient outcomes for 12 high-risk surgeries.
Checkbook President Robert Krughoff won the AcademyHealth Health Data Liberator Award.
AcademyHealth recognized Checkbook President Robert Krughoff’s work to liberate and publicly report data to help consumers make smarter choices with the Health Data Liberator Award.