An illustration of a couple looking at a wall of medical bills next to an operating room where doctors are waiting.
Illustration: Mark Wang

My Journey Through Tijuana for the Best Surgery $2,000 Can Buy

Orthopedic surgery would have bankrupted us in the United States. So we went to Mexico instead.

Amy Martyn
Published in
16 min readFeb 18, 2020

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“H“Holy shit,” my husband said when he saw the doctor’s son pull over and park his car next to a small, concrete building in the neighborhood of Nueva Tijuana. The exterior paint of the clinic was peeling and there were bars on the windows. We parked and stared at the clinic silently without getting out of the truck. I’d hoped $2,000 for orthopedic surgery was going to buy us something a little nicer than this.

Five days earlier, Aaron and I drove the half-hour from our rental home in the Mexican beach community of Rosarito to Tijuana’s Zona Río to see what we could do about his ankle, which was broken in two places after a hard landing off of a step in the house. We pulled up to Hospital Angeles, which has a reputation among American tourists for being the best private hospital in the city. Valets greeted us in the parking lot. They let Aaron wait in our car by the entrance so he wouldn’t have to put any further strain on his injury. I hurried inside to see how soon I would be able to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Neither of us had health insurance.

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