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Healthcare and Education in Los Angeles

Lots of people other than just movie stars, supermodels, and starry-eyed waitresses have chosen a life in Los Angeles. L.A. is a multicultural, multi-ethnic city and home to people from all walks of life. If you are going to be one of them, InterNations has all the information on living in Los Angeles, from healthcare to housing.
Summer is smog season in Los Angeles.

You Are in Good Hands: Healthcare in L.A.

Expats in Los Angeles enjoy exceptionally good healthcare facilities. Over 130 hospitals and countless clinics with well-trained staff offer a full range of services, including specialized treatments. Also, the city benefits from a big and progressive medical research community. The UCLA Medical Center, for example, is one of the most prestigious hospitals in the entire country.

If you need to see a doctor while living in Los Angeles, you usually need to make an appointment first. Waiting times can be as short as a few days and as long as a full month. There are also walk-in clinics, which don’t require an appointment and are a lot cheaper than seeing a regular doctor. However, as they operate on a first-come, first-served basis, you should be prepared for a long wait.

For more information on public hospitals and clinics, swing by the Department of Health Services of Los Angeles County. On the website of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, you can find more information as well as the location of hospitals and other healthcare providers via its Healthcare Atlas. The Medical Board of California also offers useful information on choosing a doctor.

Finding the Right Health Insurance Plan

Even with the recent developments in US healthcare that aim to make insurance more available and affordable, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there is still no universal health insurance in the United States. There are nationwide schemes for the elderly, the disabled, and the socially disadvantaged (Medicare and Medicaid), and the County of Los Angeles offers low-cost and no-cost healthcare programs. In order to qualify for these, however, you need to be a permanent resident of the US. Additionally, the California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board provides affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage.

As an expat, however, you’ll probably be best off getting private insurance for your time in L.A. Alternatively, you may be able to benefit from a company insurance plan via your employer. In many cases, these can be extended to cover your whole family. Note that virtually no insurance plan covers 100% of all medical expenses, so you’ll always have to pay a certain part yourself. The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality is a good source of information for consumers and patients.

If you want to learn more about the healthcare reform, Medicare, and Medicaid, and about how to navigate the healthcare system, take a look at our article on US healthcare and health insurance.

Going to Public School in Los Angeles

In California, school is compulsory for all children aged six to 18. While homeschooling is not uncommon in the US, it is quite rare in big cities like L.A. If your children have sufficient English language skills, you can simply send them to a public school in your district.

Public schools are free of charge. However, just like other school districts throughout the country, the L.A. Unified School District has suffered from insufficient funding in recent years. Nevertheless, a lot of progress has been made in terms of attendance levels, graduation rates, and test scores.

To find a public school near you, you can use the School Finder of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Picking a school in your local district could be a good way to immerse your child in the local culture, especially if you are only in L.A. for the short term. The U.S. Network of Education Information can assist with the recognition of overseas qualifications.

For more information on the education system in the USA and on different schooling options, please consult our Extended Guide article on schools in the US.

Other Possibilities: Private and International Schools in L.A.

Many expat parents choose to send their children to private schools. Some of these schools follow a national or statewide curriculum, others are affiliated with religious faiths or teach a non-traditional curriculum, and some are international schools. Private schools usually offer better facilities, but, since they do not receive any state funding, tuition and attendance fees can be very high.

Parents have a wide range of private and international schools in and around Los Angeles to choose from. There are clear advantages to international schools, such as the fact that their staff tends to be more mindful of transition problems and other issues commonly faced by children who lack continuity in their education. Many international schools also offer bilingual courses and several diplomas, including the International Baccalaureate. Consult the website of the International Baccalaureate Organization for more information.

If you want to learn more about the different programs and schools for expat children in the United States, read our article on international schools in the US.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Juan Garcia

"Los Angeles is a great city, but only thanks to some members of InterNations, I could find the hottest places in its exciting nightlife."

Cynthia Fleming

"The InterNations members gave us very good hints about where to dine out in Los Angeles and enjoy the Californian wines. "

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