I have received several additional letters alleging medical insurance frauds similar to those already described here.

These readers say they were charged by hospitals for tests that were never made and for other phantom services that were never performed.

They allege that when they called these padded bills to the attention of Blue Cross-Blue Shield they were told to forget it. "What do you care?" they were asked. "You're not paying for it."

That's just utter nonsense, of course. We are paying for it. In the end, the public pays for every theft, every wasteful practice, every negligent act and every fraud that is perpetrated -- whether it is against the government, an insurance company, any other private firm, or directly against individuals.

An insurance company that has paid a padded hospital bill has only one way to get even, and that is to raise its premium rates. A store victimized by shoplifters can make up for the loss only by charging its paying customers somewhat higher prices than would otherwise be necessary. When some people cheat on their tax returns, the government gets what it needs by collecting more from honest taxpayers. "You're not paying for it" is an insult to our intelligence.