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A New York Times article detailing Wells Fargo’s “clawback” of former CEO John Stumpf, totaling $70 million of his $300 million in compensation, was certainly noteworthy, but I was more interested in the standard of comparison the article cited.

That was the high-water mark of “clawbacks,” in which United Health Group CEO William W. McGuire had to give back $618 million of his billion-plus bonus. We’re talking about the halcyon days of health insurance when nonprofit insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield found a window of opportunity to go private.

Most have since sold themselves to the remaining five giant carriers, including United Health and Aetna. At the time, a handful of senior executives at Blue Cross of California walked away with a combined total of $300 million.

Health insurance was soon dominated by for-profit companies, and the business model quickly became one of covering just healthy people while deploying an army of claims adjusters whose function was to deny coverage or delay claims whenever possible. The same model included no incentive to pay for preventive care — which was cost-effective but of no interest to an insurance industry obsessed with bottom-line profitability.

This all matters to us as we stare into the abyss of whatever “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act might occur. The recent attempt, which would have scaled back current benefits and reduced subsidies required for affordability, failed because it didn’t scale back enough — not enough to reinstitute the “good old days.”

My primary concern is for people within 20 or more years of Medi-Care eligibility who could lose their jobs and their health insurance and wind up with either no coverage at all or coverage they could not afford without ACA-level subsidies. This is the group of “Bad Luck Bears” caught in a sea change of the American economy that began in the 1970s with the advent of corporate raiders, junk bonds and private equity deal-makers whose goals were to make money quickly, as opposed to preserving and operating business institutions.

In this environment, every company saw itself as a possible takeover candidate, and bottom-line profitability became the driving force behind business strategy. Loyalty of and to the workforce went out the window. It was the beginning of what has now become the “every-man-for-himself” or “gig” economy.

Anyone in their 50s or older finds this condition to be a very difficult job-hunting environment. Those with financial resources like 401(k)s and homes are the ones who stand to lose it all if struck by an uninsured accident or illness. Prior to the ACA, half of all bankruptcies were caused by uninsured health costs.

A compelling book by T.R. Reid, “The Healing of America,” outlines what works in all other wealthy industrialized countries — countries guaranteeing health care for all citizens and at costs of about half of what we spend. It’s a simple read and leaves you thinking how straightforward it would be to reduce administrative costs to about 2 percent per year instead of the 20 percent we spend now.

A New York Times bestseller, the book lays out the combinations of public and private systems that operate in Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Canada — any one of which would represent an improvement over what we will have if we revert back to any semblance of the pre-2010 system.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We already offer single-payer/universal coverage health plans to our veterans, active-duty military personnel, those over 65 and those whose incomes are below the poverty level — at an administrative cost of just 2 to 5 percent. Adopting something similar with a proven track record of success from another industrialized country shouldn’t have to be such a stretch. Anyone locked in the ideology of avoiding “socialized medicine” should recognize that those offering national health care in a variety of forms all embrace capitalism as fervently as we do.

I subscribe to the notion that we should encourage personal responsibility as in: Get a job, save money, buy car insurance because it’s the law, etc. But at some point, there’s a thin line between encouraging personal responsibility and what I call the “politics of selfishness.”

Those just obsessed with cutting their tax bills fail to acknowledge that some of the most responsible people imaginable, who have done the right thing throughout their lives, can have bad luck when it comes to the nexus of illness and the lack of medical insurance coverage.

In the face of what I’m convinced is a collective desire to create an ever more cohesive society, we remain the only major nation refusing to endorse the notion that every human has a basic right to health care.