@rugbygirl - What happened to your friend is tragic! I'm so sorry.
I think the ideal situation is for people to be able to choose the best health insurance policies for their own needs. I actually chose an HMO at my last job even though it had the highest premium of the three choices - because I wanted *financial* security. I wanted to know that that monthly fee was pretty much all I would have to pay. The POS and PPO plans I could choose from had much higher out-of-pocket maximums as well as more copays.
But I read the fine print. My plan did cover emergency care out of the area and there was some limited ability to change your primary care doctor if s/he was just a bad fit for you.