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San Francisco, CA

Healthy Living and Health Insurance in San Francisco


Health & Medical Insurance in San Francisco

No one really needs to tell San Franciscans about health. However, it never hurts to give some credit for the many innovations in health that have been nurtured by the liberal, wellness-centered, Bay Area lifestyle dating back for many decades. We thank you, San Francisco, Berkeley, Half Moon Bay, and other surrounding cities, for providing the rest of the nation an archetype for health since the birth of the hippie movement. San Francisco is named the number one walking city by Prevention, boasts low smoking rates, and provides an endless number of opportunities for residents to stay healthy.

In terms of individual health coverage, San Francisco does contribute to the state’s uninsured population, which is fairly high at 19.6 percent. Though there are many residents in need of health insurance that cannot afford it, or are unable to purchase it due to health problems and discrimination from insurers, there are a few who may still be neglecting to see coverage as an important part of life. While they may not cover every form of alternative medicine, private health plans have added acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy to their lists of medical services. Discounts are also offered from health plans on vitamins, herbal supplements, and other natural products for staying well.

For a quick example of what San Francisco health plans look like in 2013, we ran a quote for a 40-year-old female living in zip code 94102. For a low-premium, high-deductible plan with copays and low coinsurance, it looks like Cigna offers a solid plan for $236 per month. This includes unlimited office visits, 30% coinsurance, and a $3,000 deductible. However, for $270 per month, Health Net has an HMO plan with no deductible and various benefits for a copay. As Kaiser Permanente is always one of your best options, their $3,000 plan for $291 is actually the best deal, with 20% coinsurance and plenty of copays. Depending on your demographic, Anthem is also a good choice, but their rates just increased massively.


Living Well and Paying Less

Spending less on health care can start with adopting a healthy lifestyle. San Franciscans surely know the lengths you can go to in order to improve your health, and with the high cost of everything in the city it certainly helps to find free or low-cost solutions. Health insurance rates are always contingent on a person’s health (at least until next year) and the better you treat yourself, the lower your premium will be.

To get the most out of your health plan and prevent high medical bills, individual insurers like Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net have included wellness programs and health benefits for their members. Like being a member of a group health plan, these programs monitor your health and progress, giving incentives and rewards for improvements. These include discounts on tobacco cessation products, discounts off your premium, and lower prices on gym memberships and fitness classes.

If you need a little extra push to get healthy, or just want to milk your plan for all it’s worth, definitely look into the discounts and wellness programs offered.


Healthy Activities

The Bay Area and the city limits of San Francisco offer a beautiful backdrop for staying healthy. While a vigorous walking or biking commute around the intense hills of the city certainly keeps San Francisco residents healthy, there are still more ways to enjoy the outdoors in the area. Take capoeira or yoga class in Golden Gate Park, or experience the natural beauty of the local flora and fauna on one of many trails. The options are endless, and all at your fingertips within a few miles of anywhere in the city.


Hiking/Trail Running

Trails are abundant in the Bay Area, with a variety of scenery and terrain to choose from. Hike beachfront or among the lushness of the redwood forests. Anyone from a dedicated nature lover to a novice, pavement-prone city dweller can take advantage of San Francisco area trails. Spanning from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz, more than 40 trails of various lengths and difficulties run throughout the region including rail trails. For a full list and map of trails click here. The top five San Francisco trails, according to All Trails, are listed below.


Road & Mountain Biking

With the lovely hills of the San Francisco Bay Area, mountain bikers can find plenty of trails to ride and road bikers will be sufficiently challenged with uphills. While roadies have the streets and several bike routes at their disposal, mountain bikers have an immense number of trails in the area, surpassing much of the nation in the dense concentration of riding options.



California’s specialty, surfing is of course an option for those who want to experience the dark waters of the Pacific in all their glory. There are many notable breaks around San Francisco and Northern California beaches, though of course it depends on the conditions. Depending on your location, you can find point breaks and reefs of all sizes and the legendary Maverick’s, within a relatively short drive of the city. Below are an assortment of surf breaks for various levels of riders.



Naturally, the city founded on granola couldn’t be complete without the indoor and outdoor spectacle of yoga, which floods San Francisco. Center for gurus, conferences, and world-class studios, those who prefer a mind-body experience San Francisco can exhale into down-dog at any number of locations. According to SF-based site PopSugar, the five best yoga studios in all of San Francisco are listed below. Some, such as Planet Granite, offer more than yoga classes, like rock climbing. However, there are myriad options that can be viewed here.


Rock Climbing

Nearby to San Francisco, adventurers can take their adrenaline rush up a wall with indoor and outdoor rock climbing. While it is always best to start indoors, there are great locations for an outdoor experience, as well. Many rock climbing gyms are located throughout the city, and once you’ve had enough of the man-made approach, you can head out to the real rocks.


Healthy Eating

Eating well is the best revenge (against medical problems). As one of the country’s culinary centers, there is an incredible amount of chic presentation and excellent ingredients in Bay Area food. San Francisco has no shortage of amazing – arguably the nation’s best – green, organic, health-oriented restaurants, from gourmet to take-out. It may not even be possible to get an unhealthy meal in the Bay Area, but just to make sure you’re abreast of a few choices for making your own great food and eating well when dining out, here are a few suggestions.

  • SF Farmers’ Markets: An exhaustive collection of every farmers’ market citywide.
  • The Plant: Organic produce, free range organic meat, sustainable seafood for every meal. Multiple locations.
  • Gracias Madre: Local, organic, vegan-friendly, beyond Mexican. 2211 Mission Street, (415) 683-1346.
  • Triptych: Organic lunch, dinner, dessert inspired by Caribbean, Latin, and Asian cuisine. 1155 Folsom Street.
  • Mixt Greens: Vegetarian, local, organic deli/cafe. 120 Sansome St, Suite 120. (415) 433-6498.
  • Herbivore the Earthly Grill: Local, organic, sustainable, affordable food all day. 983 Valencia St, (415) 826-5657.
  • Judahlicious: Green certified cafe/juice bar with raw and vegan options from morning till night. 3906 Judah St, (415) 665-8423.