Whether a political stunt to appeal to Ireland's middle class or an ethical policy choice to safeguard future generations, the decision by the Government this week to provide free GP care for all children aged five and under has raised eyebrows.
But across Europe, free GP care for children is the norm rather than the exception. In some nations it's seen as a moral imperative. So how do our European neighbours deal with public healthcare for their youngest citizens and what can we learn from them?
In 2011 one of my children ended up being hospitalised three times in one year with severe asthma when we lived in the UK. We didn't pay a single penny directly for all the nights in hospital, the consultation with GPs and specialists or the many drugs and inhalers we were given to treat her. The bill here would have run into hundreds of euro.
As in the UK there is no charge for children when they visit their GP. Amazingly in some parts of the country 'children' can mean anyone up to 25 years old.
Free healthcare is provided through federal taxation and prescription medication is heavily subsidised. Children get free regular developmental checks, immunisations, illness care, hospitalisation and dental work.
Highly socialised French healthcare is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Everyone is entitled to an equal level of service in both public and private institutions.
A charge of about €24 exists for children who visit a médicin traitant (GP) though the majority of the costs can be reimbursed. The French can consult any health practitioner they wish. Medical costs for the poorest and those suffering from long-term illnesses are covered by the government.
You won't be shocked to learn that healthcare in Germany is of a very high quality and children go to the doctor for free with medication highly subsidised.
Healthcare is made up of a combination of compulsory health insurance and optional private medical care but most employees pay no more than €20 a month into a 'sickness fund'. Appointments, consultations and treatments for children and adults are seamless.
Children are not charged for attending their GP and healthcare is free for those who contribute to social security.
However, huge unemployment rates mean the healthcare fund is running on empty. Last year the government inflicted severe cuts to its health budget but the prospect of charging children for medical care seems a way off. Prescription medicine is cheap.
Public healthcare is free in Greece but the system has been mismanaged for decades, leading to chronic corruption and overspending on drugs and hospital supplies.
Greek citizens pay for their healthcare by a system of insurance, with contributions from employers, the state and the beneficiaries themselves. When someone loses their job, they lose their healthcare plan too. Children will not be treated if their parents have no state or private insurance.
Article 68 of the Polish constitution states that everyone has a right to free healthcare with children, pregnant women, disabled people and the elderly prioritised.
Healthcare in Poland is delivered through a publicly funded system, which is free for all citizens – however, many choose to have private health insurance.
While the system sounds good in theory, in practice it's criticised for being bloated, slow and overly bureaucratic.
Named as the best healthcare system in Europe by the Euro Health Consumer Index in 2012 the Netherlands insists on citizens having private health insurance to cover visits to the family doctor, hospital and out-patient clinics.
Children under 18 are treated under the family insurance scheme at no additional cost because the insurance company receives the cost of this from a regulator fund.
As part of the affordable private insurance scheme, over which the Government keeps a very close eye, the costs of prescription medicines are already taken care of through premium payments.