My husband was in the Seabees for 20 years. We were poor--but we always had good health care mainly because we lived about two blocks from the base and the Navy Hospital. My second child was born there back when it was merely a dispensary. Her first baby was born there when it was called a hospital--but it looked exactly the same. (Her husband was in the Army at the time and I had the privilege of being her birth coach--that was a wonderful experience.)
But I digress. Having a Navy Hospital so close was terrific, though the next three of my children were born at the Catholic Hospital in town and I paid the fee of $25 for the privilege and had a civilian doctor to deliver them. (A true blessing and well worth the $25.) After the children were born, then we returned to the Navy base for subsequent care--sickness, broken bones, stitches. Since all together we had five children (first child was born on the East Coast, also in civilian hospital, can't remember what that cost, but since we didn't have much money it couldn't have cost much) we used the Navy facility often.
When we moved out of the area to where we live now, the closest Navy Hospital was about a two hour drive away--much too far to rely on for medical care. So we purchased medical insurance but could pick the doctor of our choice.
Then things changed for the better, for retired service men and their families something called Tri-Care. It works like medical insurance, paying part of whatever the needed treatment cost and because we are also on Medicare usually that takes care of the rest. And we could keep on using our doctor.
The only concession is that I must have a military ID as a dependent. I've always had one, but every three years it had to be renewed. They want to make sure the spouse doesn't divorce the retiree and continue to get medical care.
My ID card was due to expire January 2010, so hubby and I made the trek out to the nearest military base, two hours away. When we got there we learned we should have gotten an appointment, but now we'd have to wait our turn. That turned out to be an hour and a half.
My name was called. My information was pulled up on the computer, papers were filled out, hubby showed his ID card, I turned over mine, my photo was taken. I was about to ask what I should do in the event my spouse was no longer around--when the young Navy man who took care of us said, "Oh, you won't have to come back anymore because the expiration date is now indefinite."
Seems that the new rule is when you're over 65 they don't expect you to get divorced and you can keep the card until you expire.
Needless to say I'm quite happy to have and ID card with an indefinite expiration date.