Medical Insurance & Healthy Living in Los Angeles
What could also be known as the juicing capital of the world, Los Angeles is a major city that stays on the cutting edge of nutrition, and may be stereotyped (perhaps not incorrectly) for having a diet and fitness obsession. But for the 3.8 million residents of LA, the terrain and diversity of activities is just as varied as its inhabitants. Yoga and surfing are characteristic of the area, but mountain bikers and adventurers can also get their fix in the surrounding hills and cliffs. And the health food selection isn’t limited to boutique juice bars and vegan cafes alone, LA has an excellent choice of farmers’ markets where locals can pick up the tastes of the smog-free farms several miles from the urban jungle. Whether you’re the first to know about the newest superfood on the market or just looking to improve your health for a lower cost in a pricey city, Los Angeles has a variety of resources.
The healthy people of Los Angeles are able to purchase insurance from five to six different carriers, all of which are sufficient for individual and family coverage. The significant community of those who prefer complementary and alternative medicine to conventional can get a few breaks on their services and products of choice thanks to several Southern California insurers. Depending on who you purchase a policy from, your plan may offer discounts on vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, massage therapy, and other items to maintain your health. Chiropractic may also be included in your schedule of benefits, as it is growing into a more widely accepted form of treatment.
Like much else in La-La Land, coverage is not very cheap, but costs are about the same no matter where you live in California. Healthcare reform is beginning to take shape, but before it does, there are a few final days where you can buy a plan from a private insurer and still get turned down for being pregnant or having a medical condition! At least in this state, any gender resident can buy a plan for the same price without discrimination. As of April 2013, the best looking comprehensive plan for a 32-year-old male resident of LA seems to be Kaiser Permanente‘s HMO plan with a $3,000 deductible for $220 per month. No one is quite sure what coverage will cost in 2014, but you may be able to keep your 2013 plan for an additional year at this rate if you enroll now with certain insurers.
Living Well and Paying Less
Finding the affordable, healthy pockets of a major city takes more than shopping at bodegas when you’re on-the-go, it’s a continual lifestyle of planning. Unfortunately, the massive cityscape and sprawling highways don’t allow for the easiest foot and bike commutes, but you can certainly find the right areas to park for the day and set off as a pedestrian.
Ride or walk around your neighborhood, the beach, or a city park to spend some time outdoors, walk around on your break from work, as a free complement to (or substitute for) the gym. Many private insurance plans are more than happy to discount memberships at your local fitness club, which can be a nice perk in addition to your coverage, if you choose.
Being outside in the polluted air for extended periods can be taxing on your respiratory system, however, so we suggest exploring state parks and other areas with cleaner air.
For a worthwhile escape from the clamor of the busy beaches and downtown traffic, explore the native landscape preserved in local parks. Within a 20-mile radius, you can get to some of the state’s top trails with waterfalls, canyons, bluffs, and access lush greenery, desert and forests. Though the trails may also be busy, it is guaranteed you’ll find far less of a crowd in a park than a beach. Explore some of these spots to keep yourself occupied and out of the smog.
If you want to trek by the iconic Hollywood letters or climb some large drop-offs a few miles from downtown, the Los Angeles area can provide the right backdrop for any hike. Varying from easy trails to expert-level, this area is full of adventure for a much lower cost than a night on the town. For a full list (which includes more than 330 trails) of the region’s best hiking routes, visit AllTrails. To get started, here are a few of their members’ top picks.
- Big Santa Anita Canyon Trail: Sierra Madre, CA
- Dawn Mine Trail: Altadena, CA
- Runyon Canyon Trail: Los Angeles, CA
- Hollyridge Trail: Los Angeles, CA
- Mount Wilson Trail: Sierra Madre, CA
With 100 trails in close proximity to the city, mountain bikers in LA have their pick of mostly easy and moderate singletracks, which can be very fun regardless of skill level. Mount Wilson in Sierra Madre is the most technical and challenging, winding 13.6 miles through a national forest. Mountain biking trails are located throughout the area, both in the city and further out. This fast-growing sport is becoming a big deal in California, and with an ideal year-round climate, you can go out just about any time you like.
- Mount Wilson Trail: Sierra Madre, CA
- Marshall Canyon Trail: Claremont, CA
- Palos Verdes Bluffs Trail: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
- Mt. Lowe Railway Loop: Altadena, CA
- Westridge-Canyonback Trail: Los Angeles, CA
The beach and the wild are both optimized for road biking, providing beautiful California scenery for a nice long ride. The Topanga Canyon Loop near Santa Monica is quite the highlight, spanning 39 miles with some intense inclines, beach views, and waterfalls to accompany your ride. Many of the area beaches are equipped for bike traffic, which can be very busy if you’re up for it. Whether you’re looking for a serious ride or a beach-side cruise, SoCal is no stranger to cyclists.
- Malibu Creek Trail: Calabasas, CA
- Mt. Hollywood Trail: Los Angeles, CA
- The Los Angeles Bikeway Loop: Long Beach, CA
- Fargo Street Hillclimb: Los Angeles, CA
- Potato Mountain – Wilderness Trail: Claremont, CA
Los Angeles County has a variety of rock climbing destinations to choose from. Indoor gyms are also abundant, but climbs located at Malibu Creek State Park, as well as Topanga Canyon offer a great outlet for those who like to scale the real thing. As the area is scattered, so are rock climbing spots. Check RockClimbing.com for an exhaustive list of areas near you.
And finally, if you’re rocking out like a true Californian, you likely already know the best places to surf in Los Angeles. But in case you’re a transplant or a visitor, here are the top recommendations for LA surf spots close to the city. Of course, there’s Huntington Beach and Surf City, but if you want to catch some waves closer to home, try a few of these breaks. If you’re just starting out, check out El Porto in El Segundo, and for the more seasoned wave rider, Manhattan Beach and Lunada Bay are worth a look.
- Hermosa Beach Pier: Hermosa Beach, CA
- El Porto: El Segundo, CA
- Heavens at Carrillo State Park: Malibu, CA
- Lunada Bay: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
- Manhattan Beach/26th St Pier: Manhattan Beach, CA
With dozens of farmers markets throughout the region, LA residents have access to many open-air community gatherings with local, fresh, organic produce to maintain that healthy, raw food glow. Even those who haven’t joined team vegan can find plenty of healthy bites throughout the city, though you’ll run into lots of plant-based meals regardless (always a good thing). Though you’re likely set on your favorite markets and restaurants, here are our recommendations for low(er) cost, healthy eating in and around Los Angeles.
- The Original Farmers Market: Located between Hollywood and West LA, this market is open daily with fresh produce, gourmet items, seafood, cheeses, and more in an indoor-outdoor setting. 6333 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 933-9211.
- Grand Central Market: The city’s oldest and largest open-air market, located downtown, you can find just about anything you’re looking for, sourced locally and made fresh. Open daily. 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013. (213) 624-2378
- California Certified Farmers Markets: With multiple locations in the LA area, this market brings certified organic foods directly from the farmers, including more than 3,000 regional producers. Crafts, prepared foods, and artisan products are also available.
- Organic Oasis Food Truck: Follow the organic food truck for a rotating menu featuring avocado bowls, a juice bar, and other fresh items to go. Travels around LA and Southern California – check site for schedule.
- Tribal Cafe: Very affordable organic spot with green smoothies, salads, and sandwiches. Take out, eat in, enjoy the juice bar (of course), and either avoid or attend open mics and other events. 3253 Beverly Blvd and 1651 W Temple St, Los Angeles. (213) 351-1348.
- Mama’s Hot Tamales: Healthy, low-cost Mexican options for take out of eating in, with great salads, vegan and vegetarian options in addition to meat. 2124 W 7th St, Los Angeles, 90057. (213) 487-7474.
- Cafe Gratitude: A massive selection of juice bar and smoothie items, in addition to gourmet raw, organic, vegan dishes. Part of a San Francisco area chain. 639 N Larchmont Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90004. (323) 580-6383.
The list goes on… Find more affordable, healthy, organic food options in the Los Angeles area at Happy Cow.
1. Shana Ting Lipton. About.com. 15 Top Surfing Spots in Los Angeles, CA.
2. Los Angeles Times. Farmers Markets.
Images: Nserrano via Wikimedia Commons, AllTrails.com.