1968 Opel Kadett

It all started with a 1968 Opel Kadett...

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 over 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.

Center for the Study of Services Logo

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.

First Issue in 1976

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.

Guide to Health Plans in 1979

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.

First Issue in the Bay Area in 1981

Checkbook.org launched.

Checkbook.org launched, giving consumers access to all ratings, advice, and price information anytime, anywhere.

Old Website in 1996

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.

Guide to Top Doctors in 1999

Checkbook expanded to include Boston, Chicago, Delaware Valley, Puget Sound, and the Twin Cities.

Checkbook Markets

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.

Sued Federal Government

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, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Checkbook Health

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.

RWF Challenge

SurgeonRatings.org launched.

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.

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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.

Academy Health
Who we are.

About Us

From auto repair shops to doctors to plumbers to vets, you can count on us to help you find the best service—and avoid the worst.

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What we do.

What We Do

We publish unbiased reviews, undercover price research, and advice on local businesses and healthcare professionals.

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Wy we're unique

Why We're Unique

Checkbook was created by consumers, for consumers. We are nonprofit and accept no advertising - unlike many other ratings websites.

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We aren't loyal to businesses, we're loyal to you.


Easily find ratings, reviews, and advice on local service providers.


Checkbook is nonprofit, independent, and provides unbiased information.

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We don't run ads or take referral fees from businesses that we rate.