01/23/2015 05:11 EST | Updated 03/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Beware of medical costs and resort doctors in Dominican Republic, Ottawa warns

Seeing a doctor in the Dominican Republic could be hazardous to your pocketbook.

There are good, private medical facilities in all tourist areas in the Caribbean country, Ottawa says. But here's the bad news: you might be overcharged for treatment, some of which you may not even need.

In updated travel advice for the country, Canada's Foreign Affairs Department says its embassy in the capital, Santo Domingo, has received reports from Canadians of "overcharging for medical services, variable pricing and unnecessary overnight hospital stays."

Even basic medical services "can be very costly," the department says, advising Canadians to ask about fees before undergoing any treatment.

"Beware of aggressive sales tactics of in-house resort doctors, who are often contracted out by private hospitals and try to sell you on their facility," the department warns.

If travellers feel they've been overcharged after a hospital visit they should let hospital administrators know, "as some Canadians have successfully negotiated a reduction in their hospital bill."

The department would not say how many reports of overcharging it has received.

But in an email, spokesperson Nicolas Doire said the travel advice was updated "to ensure all Canadians visiting the country are aware of the importance of having travel insurance and to inform them of local medical practices which differ from those in Canada."

A Montreal-area couple on holiday in the Dominican Republic were hit with a $90,000 bill after their daughter was born prematurely in a Santo Domingo hospital in December. That bill included $40,000 for an air ambulance back to Canada.

Ottawa asks Canadians to report any incidents requiring hospitalization to the embassy in Santo Domingo.

The government also says Canadians visiting a hospital in the Dominican Republic should request English or French speaking assistance, if necessary, to ensure they understand "procedures, processes and pricing."

"Assistance in your preferred language may not be offered unless requested."