Consumer Reports rates many different kinds of healthcare products and services, including:

  • Exercise equipment, such as ellipticals, treadmills, pedometers, and home gyms.
  • Home medical devices, such as blood-pressure monitors, blood-glucose meters, and fever thermometers.
  • Personal-care items, such as sunscreens, moisturizers, electric shavers, electric toothbrushes, and bathroom scales.
  • Drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medication.
  • Health insurance plans, including HMO, PPOs, and Medicare Advantage plans.

In some cases, such as in our ratings of exercise equipment and home medical devices, most of our testing is done in our consumer product and service testing center in Westchester, NY, with our in-house staff of exercise and medical experts, engineers, and technicians.

In other cases, such as for drugs and health insurance, our ratings are based mostly on data that we get from external sources, such as federal and state databases or partner organizations, as well as from our own surveys, which are conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research and Testing Center. That data is then analyzed by our in-house physicians and health statisticians and presented by our health writers and editors.

Exercise Equipment and Personal-Care Products

We test models and products that represent the spectrum of choices in a given market. Our market analysts look for products with new features and technological advances and a wide range of prices. Staff shoppers then buy the products at retail outlets or online, without revealing that the purchases are for Consumer Reports. The products are then tested by experienced engineers and technicians who put the products through a battery of tests using scientific measurements, along with other tests that replicate the user experience.

We test products against existing industry or government standards and develop our own benchmarks when we encounter new technologies or issues that require further testing. We combine the results of all of these tests to arrive at individual scores for key attributes. These scores, in turn, contribute to an overall score that enables us to rank products by performance.

Prescription Drugs

Our Consumer Reports Best Buy Drug reports provide information that will help you talk with your doctor about prescription medicines, particularly which ones best meet your medical needs and give you the best value for your healthcare dollar. For example, heavily advertised drugs are often the most expensive ones but aren't necessarily the best first choice for you.

Our reports cut through the noise of drug promotions and use unbiased evaluations of the evidence to make recommendations for some of the most common conditions. The findings in each report combine an expert medical review of the scientific evidence on prescription drugs with their prices. The analysis compares and contrasts the effectiveness, safety, and price of prescription drugs by category — that is, drugs in the same class that are used to treat a specific condition or illness such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn, or depression. Some of the information in our reports come from our partner, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.