- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

If you worked for the U.S. government anytime since the mid-1980s, then Uncle Sam may be holding some cash in your name. It could be a few dollars. It could be lots of dollars.
There are at least 14,700 so-called "lost participants," former (and maybe even current) feds who seem to have vanished with money left in their Thrift Savings Plan 401(k) accounts. Some may not even know they had accounts. In most cases, the government contributed the equivalent of 1 percent of salary even if the employee invested nothing.
Maryland is the last known address of 1,100 lost participants. There are another 887 who lived in Virginia, 582 from the District, 37 from Delaware and 36 from West Virginia.
Some of the people will have died, left the country, changed their names or whatever. Some of the names are so popular lots of Smiths, Andersons and Johnsons they would be hard to track down.
But how many people have you known named Anita Agwatu or Shin Ici Aota, hardly old-line Maryland names. Or whatever happened to Kumar Anud Das, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, or Dalynee Clarky Barra, who was from Virginia?
If anybody has run across them or Susan Leslie Zywokarte or William A. Stanczytkiewicz names that once learned you would never forget tell them to call their former office.
It could be that the most deserving person you know, that would be you, is on the list. To check it for yourself, a friend or coworkers, go to https://tsp.gov/lostpar/index.html.

Best insurance buys
Health insurance premiums are important, but they don't tell the entire story especially if you or your family have a tough medical year. A plan with low premiums, that forces you to pay lots out of pocket, isn't a bargain if you or yours get sick or have a serious accident.
The Washington Consumers Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees ranks plans by the estimated total cost to you. Total cost means premiums, any membership fees and likely uncovered out-of-pocket expenses. Using that total dollar figure it ranks the following plans as "best buys" for both singles and families. The dollar amounts below show the likely costs you would incur in each plan:
Health maintenance organizations for singles: Kaiser ($780); MD-IPA ($850), Aetna ($920, Carefirst ($920) and Aetna ($1050). Couples can double those total cost figures.
Fee-for-service plans for singles: Blue Cross basic ($1,200), Blue Cross standard ($1,340); GEHA standard ($1,380); Mail Handlers standard option ($1,460), APWU ($1,580) and NALC plan ($1,650). Couples can double those total cost figures.

Retiree health plans
Federal retirees with Medicare coverage have the best of all insurance worlds. They can pick a comprehensive, low-premium plan and get almost 100 percent coverage. Many retired feds are in the excellent (but too expensive) Blue Cross high option plan. It won't be offered next year. Checkbook's Walton Francis suggests they check out the GEHA standard plan (which is not raising premiums next year), and the APWU and NALC plans.
Federal retirees without Medicare need to shop just like active-duty feds. That is pick a plan with the lowest premium, lowest out-of-pocket costs and the most comprehensive coverage. Check the above best-buys list for single (and married) feds.

Dental coverage
The "best" dental benefits in the federal health program are offered by HMOs. They will pay about half your costs. Most experts caution against buying a health plan strictly for its dental benefits. One way to check is to ask your dentist (or someone in his or her office) to look at the brochures of the plans you are considering.


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