Under the recent Senate bill, 30 million uninsured Americans will have access to health insurance, and preexisting conditions will be covered. While all of that is great, here's my problem with the bill: what happens if your insurance company screws you?
Currently, every single American is at risk. Make a claim for a serious illness, and the insurance company could very well find something left off the application and use that to rescind coverage. As of right now, cancer is the number one cause of bankruptcy (and most of those who declare bankruptcy have insurance). And insurers will do just about anything to drop insurance coverage.
And let's face it, as corporations, profit-motivated entities, insurance companies are supposed to do this. To improve profitibility, insurance companies can either raise rates or cut coverage. In most areas, there's competition to keep companies honest. But insurance companies have government sanction to become monopolies, so there is no competition.
The public option was supposed to fix this. The reason why it was so popular (over 60% of the public supported the public option, without it, health care reform is favored by 32%), is that the public option was a safety net. Get screwed by your insurance company, get the public option. Private insurance too expensive, get the public option. Quit your job and can't get individual coverage? Get the public option. In other words, the public option was a get-out-of-jail card that would've protected everyone. So, naturally, it was phenomenally popular, and couldn't be enacted into law.
For the record, my ideal public option is simple - a full-cost Medicare buy-in. A friend of mine gets Medicare (she's permanently disabled and gets healthcare through SSI), and loves it. At the same time, not everyone wants government health care, so let's make it optional.
Unfortunately, doing what's popular and what's good policy is simply too much for the Democrats too bear. I will now go light myself on fire. Ugh.