Health & Medical Insurance in St. Louis
Saint Louis may not be the healthiest of all U.S. cities, but they aren’t devoid of opportunity either. If you want to take advantage of public recreation, Saint Louis has more ball diamond, dog parks, golf courses, swimming pools, and tennis courts per capita than most. The city also provides a higher number of physical education classes to its residents than the state requires.
And though the city itself is lacking in parkland, the streets still allow for plenty of walking and biking. For those who miss open space and enjoy the outdoors, state parks and nature trails of various lengths are located within a 20-mile radius.
As for finding nutritious local foods, the Saint Louis metropolitan area has several farmers’ markets, making it easy to track down a Missouri-grown tomato straight from the source. While the city has access to a few activities and foods to keep healthy, the majority of residents in the metro area are still smoking, not eating enough fruits and veggies, and afflicted with medical conditions more so than other regions. While we can’t (and many may not want to) all turn our cities into a utopian land of bike lanes and juice bars overnight, Missourians can take a few steps towards better health by utilizing their local resources.
Another positive attribute of St. Louis is the moderate cost of medical coverage. Individuals living in the area are connected to five different health plans, on top of public options, which allow members to see local providers for a reduced rate. While attempting to maintain your health, it is essential to get the right plan. Men in their 40s and women in their 30s have about the same premium rates throughout St. Louis County, averaging $135 per month for a comprehensive $2,500 plan.
While health plans help pay for your medical needs, a few provide services to keep you out of the doctor’s office. Though mostly available through employer-sponsored plans, wellness programs or incentives are also a freebie with certain private individual plans. In St. Louis, carriers offering wellness programs include Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Humana. Aetna offers discounts to policyholders who need help quitting smoking, losing weight, and managing health conditions. You can obviously take initiative on your own, but it’s always nice to get something for free out of your health plan.
Living Well and Spending Less
When using a health plan, you already cut down your overall expenses for medical care, but at the same time, you are also paying anywhere from $100 to $300 or so each month for that safety net. As unfair as that charge may be, you will also be penalized in a year for not having any coverage! In order to warm up to your health plan and feel it’s doing you some good, you can take advantage of as many extras as it offers, though they may not be many.
As value-added programs only go so far, you can start your own regimen of healthy living on your own by making Saint Louis into your playground or personal trainer. If you need a bit of additional encouragement, download a free app to get you motivated. While some medical needs are difficult to avoid, much can be prevented now and over time by eating well and being more active.
One of the cheapest ways to workout is to use your surroundings. Commuting without a car is a great start, and living in an urban area like St. Louis, you have plenty of sidewalks and roads to walk or bike. For a more lush setting, about 60 trails are located in the area so you can get your fill of green exercise.
Just because Saint Louis didn’t make the cut for number of parks and overall health on the American Fitness Index doesn’t mean there isn’t enough nature to go around. Whether you’re new to the excellence of the outdoors or know the woods like the back of your hand, you can have a great experience and exercise right outside the city.
Hike and explore the historic Cahokia Mounds or a 600-acre nature reserve, or discover the area on wheels with a road or mountain biking excursion. Take your pick, and get out of the city for a few hours or an entire day.
Hiking is an awesome way to get out of the normal walking mode and into some exquisite scenery. Take Katy Trail State Park, for example, a mere half hour drive from Saint Louis and one of the state’s most beautiful and interesting places to hike, bike, or camp. Especially perfect in the fall, trails such as these are ideal for a summer adventure as well in the shade of endless trees. View waterfalls, overlooks, and wildlife while getting a pleasantly unintentional workout. Find more St. Louis hiking spots at LocalHikes.com.
- Lone Wolf Trail- Castlewood State Park: Ballwin, MO
- Chubb Trail: Eureka, MO
- Katy Trail State Park: St. Charles, MO
- River Scene Trail: Valley Park, MO
- Hawk Ridge Trail: Ballwin, MO
Surely you can take the road bike out on the city streets or around the neighborhood, but getting some trees in your life is always a plus. Katy Trail is probably your best outlet for biking on dirt or pavement, and extends for about 64 miles. The Great Rivers Greenway also helps connect road bikers with bike routes throughout Saint Louis, each connecting to the Greenway River Ring. Try a tree-clad park or tour the city on bike.
- Bike St. Louis Map: St. Louis, MO
- Katy Trail State Park: St. Charles, MO
- Creve Cour Lake: Maryland Heights, MO
- St. Stanislaus Trail: Florissant, MO
- MTA School House Bike Trail: Collinsville, IL
With the foothills of the Ozarks starting in St. Louis County, there are some decent hills and great mountain bike trails nearby. Every level of biker can explore the terrain of eastern Missouri and southern Illinois, from the conveniently located Cliff Cave Park in St. Louis to the challenge of Chubb Trail in Eureka. Missouri has much to offer, and even more if you venture out to the mountains for a weekend trip. Check out more options in the area here.
- Chubb Trail: Eureka, MO
- Cliff Cave County Park: St. Louis, MO
- Bangert Island: St. Charles, MO
- Berryman Trail: St. Louis, MO
- Blue Ribbon: St. Louis, MO
Missouri is divided by large rivers and a latticework of streams in between, making St. Louis ideal for water sports. Several companies offer rental kayaks and canoes, which is a nice way to start if you’re just an occasional paddler. Make an event out of it by joining a local group like the St. Louis Canoe and Kayak Club, getting trained and taking a trip, or just keeping it to yourself. Kayaking and canoeing provide a different perspective of your local scenery as well as a great source of activity.
- Twin Rivers Canoe Rental: Eureka, MO
- Forest 44 Canoe Rental: St. Louis, MO
- Meramec River Greenway: St. Louis, MO
- Mississippi River: St. Louis, MO
- Horseshoe Lake: Granite City, IL
The Missouri climate and nearby farms provide St. Louis with a great supply of local foods through farmers’ markets like the historic Soulard Market. A cost-effective and healthy way to shop, farmers’ markets bring the city together and provide great ingredients to take home.
When looking for a bite downtown, you can find several restaurants who use local and organic foods to create their dishes. Maintaining your health has a lot to do with what you eat, in addition to how active you are, so keep these places in mind on your next meal-based outing.
- Soulard Farmers Market: A year-round indoor farmers’ market, Soulard is a piece of Missouri history. Local food, flowers, and other handmade or grown items are available right from the producers. 730 Carroll St, (314) 622-4180.
- Ferguson Farmers Market: Operating a winter and summer market every Saturday morning, find locally grown foods and various handmade products. 20 S Florissant Rd, Ferguson, MO (314) 324-4298.
- City Greens Produce: Produce market and truck with various locations throughout St. Louis. 1202 S Boyle Ave, (314) 534-1180.
- Tower Grove Farmers’ Market: Local food, entertainment, education, and health from May through November on Saturdays. Located in Tower Grove Park.
- Local Harvest Cafe: Fresh modern dining with local, organic ingredients in a moderate price range. Open for every meal including brunch, coffee bar, and healthy, sleek catering. 3137 Morgan Ford Rd, (314) 772-8815.
- Onesto: Sourcing from local farmers, this pizzeria uses only grass-fed, antibiotic-free meats, and organic veggies. They also offer a to-go menu with recyclable and compostable containers and utensils. 5401 Finkman St, (314) 802-8883.
- Foundation Grounds: A coffee shop and cafe doing it green with breakfast, soups, sandwiches, smoothies and other items all made with organic ingredients. 7298 Manchester Rd, Manchester, MO, (314) 601-3588.
- OR Smoothie & Cafe: Organic everything and responsible, healthy ingredients like apple cider vinegar, raw sugar and sea salt make this a great spot. 6654 Clayton Rd, (314) 647-8881.
Images: Flickr, MO.gov, MillsApartments.net.