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 VOL. 5, ISSUE 8 - AUGUST 2012

In This Issue

Demystifying Health Care Prices

Diamond Certified Community Giving Project

What to Avoid to Preserve Your Tooth Enamel

Consumer Feedback:
ATCO Pest Control

New Diamond Certified

Savvy Tips of the Month

Eco-Friendly Bee Removal

Decide in the Fall Who Will Do Taxes in the Spring

Sales Savvy – How to Spot a Real One

Diamond Certified Quick Links






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Demystifying Health Care Prices

Have you ever wondered why health care prices are all over the map? Why can’t you ask how much a service costs ahead of time without getting the runaround or just a blank stare?

I recently heard about a case where a consumer received a $6,900 bill for a lumbar spine MRI. His co-pay was estimated to be $2,900. When he questioned the provider and pointed out that MRIs should cost between $1,400 and $1,700, not $6,900, the provider said, “Oh, sorry, we double-billed your procedure by mistake. Disregard that bill, the real charge is $2,800.” How many of us might have paid the full amount without question?

Many of us are “in the dark” when it comes to the costs of medical services, but fortunately that’s changing. Two websites are available for consumers who want to know the cost of a procedure in advance: and You can use the information on either site to negotiate with an out-of-network provider (or any provider if your insurance policy has a high deductible), but remember to put any price arrangement negotiation in writing ahead of time.

Consumer Reports magazine has some advice on protecting yourself from being blindsided by a large medical bill. Besides reading and understanding all the fine print in your health insurance policy, the magazine suggests staying in network and comparing prices from providers in the network. You might be surprised at the differences. For example, by getting blood work done at a different lab in our network, my husband reduced the co-pay by a couple hundred dollars! Consumer Reports also says to hold off paying until all the related bills are in. Big hospital bills often show “list” prices rather than network prices, and eventually, you’ll want to compare the provider bills with the explanation of benefit forms from your insurance company.

If you don’t think it’s worth spending extra time doing homework to make sure you’re charged a fair price for a medical service, consider this: found that charges for chest x-rays range from a low of $40 to a high of $255, colonoscopies from $800 to $3,100, and knee replacements from $17,800 to $42,750. Once you dig into the costs of medical services using the two consumer-friendly websites I told you about, let us know what you discover and we’ll share your stories.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer

Chris Bjorklund

Diamond Certified Community Giving Project

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Now when you sign up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer, we will donate $1 to a local charity of your choice. Organizations include The Marine Mammal Center, Parents Helping Parents and Pets Unlimited, to name a few. Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now by calling (800) 313-1009 or visiting Become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer today and help us give back to the organizations that have made the Bay Area such a great place to live!

What to Avoid to Preserve Your Tooth Enamel
I know someone who cuts up fresh lemons, sprinkles sugar on top of them, and then sucks the sweetened juice out of the wedges. His teeth are gray, losing the enamel, and he doesn’t know why. I called Dr. James Mattingly, a Diamond Certified dentist, for advice. He says your tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in your body. However, beverages that combine acidic ingredients with sugar can destroy it and there’s little you can do to replace it. Dr. Mattingly notes that many people are unaware of how bad this combination is. Some of the enamel-destroying drinks include soda, energy drinks, and lemonade. “Coffee drinkers and tea drinkers should avoid adding sweeteners,” according to Dr. Mattingly. “When we add sugar to it or sugar flavored syrups to coffee or tea and drink it throughout the day—that can be very destructive to enamel.”

Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

RE: ATCO Pest Control

Dear Diamond Certified,

We recently added another company to our list of the Diamond Certified companies that we now regularly use. This company, ATCO, I am happy to say, lives up to the reputation of the wonderful service that we continue to receive from the Diamond Certified businesses.

This is a terrific company. They have been to our house 2-3 times over the past year. They are courteous, prompt and did a thorough job in inspecting our house for termites and in getting rid of some nasty wasp nests that we had on our home.

Keep up the good work. I just called another D.C. company to repair our garage door.

It is so wonderful to feel confident about the work that is being done on our home through your organization.

All the best,
Diane M.

Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

ALAMEDA county
Dryden Construction, Inc.
Livermore - (925) 233-6581
Fremont - (510) 431-2588

Steve Roberts Painting
Walnut Creek - (925) 233-6115

National Appliance Inc.

San Rafael - (415) 326-8338

Pipe Spy Marin, Inc.
Larkspur - (415) 890-6856

san francisco
McGowan Builders, Inc.
San Francisco - (415) 858-1618
Rogue Moving & Storage
San Francisco - (415) 992-5811

4S Casino Party Suppliers, Inc.

San Carlos - (650) 332-8874

G. D. Enterprise
Redwood City - (650) 409-1232

Saratoga Kitchen & Bath Design, Inc.

Saratoga - (408) 758-5708

American Ratings Corporation - Diamond Certified • 504 Redwood Blvd. • Suite 210 Novato, California 94947 • (877) 312-1307
©2012 American Ratings Corporation  

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