3 Ways a Brown Bag Can Save You Money on Meds

Last year, Americans spent 8.5% more on prescription drugs last year than they did in 2015. And while picking up meds from the pharmacy will always be a regular task for most of us, that doesn't mean we have to spend top dollar on every medication – especially when we might not even need some of them. Jimmy Rhoades talked to Consumer Reports Editor Lisa Gill to find out how a simple annual check can save you cash and even help your health.

1. Keeping an Eye on Interactions

When you think about it, you can take a lot of medication during the year, for different reasons – daily maintenance medications, vitamins, and cold remedies can all be helpful on their own, but when taken together, they could interact in your body in ways that you might not notice.

When you do a "brown bag check" of your meds, you can show your doctor all the meds you take, and with an accurate picture of what you're taking, your provider can tell you if some of those meds are wreaking havoc on your system – or if there are some medications you don't need at all. Knowing what you don't need means fewer co-pays you have to pay – which means more money back in your pocket.

2. Don't Be Afraid to Ask What You Don't Need

While pharmacies make more money when people buy more and more meds, doctors are most interested in your personal health. So, when you do a brown bag check with your doctor, ask them: "Can I stop taking at least one of these medications?" According to Lisa Gill, 75% of the time, the answer is yes. Your doctor will either be able to give you non-prescription options you can use to relieve certain ailments, or, give you an idea of when you'll be able to stop taking certain meds.

They might even be able to offer you generic prescription options for your medications that won't cost you as much as the name brand stuff, while still giving you the same results. They might also be able to inform you about different medications that fight multiple conditions, helping you eliminate unnecessary amounts of meds.

3. Ask About Alternatives

While you're asking questions, don't forget to throw out this one: "For the drugs I am taking, is there anything I can do to manage my condition, without having to take a pill?" Your doctor will most likely be able to find other things that you can do – exercising, changing your sleep habits, or changing your diet – to help remedy some of your ailments, without needing meds from the pharmacy.

On the flip side, they'll also be able to show what meds you definitely need to keep taking and picking up, giving you the best picture of what your updated pharmacy bill can look like month-to-month.

WEB BONUS: To learn more about how you can save your money and your health with an annual brown bag medication review, check out the video below. And click here to check out the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's list of what you should put in your brown bag and take to the doctor.

Do you use over the counter remedies when you get a cold or do you like to treat a cold with homemade remedies? Join the conversation and share your guaranteed cold remedies with us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.

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