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COBRA Continuation Coverage Rights (General Notice)

Introduction

This notice contains information about your rights to COBRA continuation coverage, which is a temporary extension of the University of North Georgia sponsored group insurance coverage under the university’s Plan. It generally explains COBRA continuation coverage, when it may become available to you and your family, and what you need to do to protect the right to receive it.

The right to COBRA continuation coverage was created by a federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). COBRA continuation coverage can become available to you when you would otherwise lose your group health coverage. It can also become available to other members of your family who are covered under the Plan when they would otherwise lose their group health coverage.

COBRA Continuation Coverage

COBRA continuation coverage is a continuation of Plan coverage when coverage would end because of a life event known as a “qualifying event.” Specific qualifying events are listed later in this notice. After a qualifying event, COBRA continuation coverage must be offered to each person who is a “qualified beneficiary.” You, your spouse, and your dependent children could become qualified beneficiaries if coverage under the Plan is lost because of the qualifying event. Under the Plan, qualified beneficiaries who elect COBRA continuation coverage must pay for COBRA continuation coverage.

Qualifying Events for Covered Spouse

If you are the spouse of an employee, you will become a qualified beneficiary if you lose your coverage under the Plan because of any of the following qualifying events happens:

  • Your spouse dies;
  • Your spouse’s hours of employment are reduced;
  • Your spouse’s employment ends for any reason other than his or her gross misconduct;
  • Your spouse becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both); or
  • You become divorced or legally separated from your spouse.

Qualifying Events for Covered Dependent Children

Your dependent children will become qualified beneficiaries if they lose coverage under the Plan because any of the following qualifying events happens:

  • The parent-employee dies;
  • The parent-employee’s hours of employment are reduced;
  • The parent-employee’s hours of employment are reduced;
  • The parent-employee becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both);
  • The parents become divorced or legally separated; or
  • The child stops being eligible for coverage under the plan as a “dependent child.”

Notification Requirements

The Plan will offer COBRA continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries only after the Plan Administrator has been notified that a qualifying event has occurred. When the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of hours of employment, death of the employee, commencement of a proceeding in bankruptcy with respect to the employer, or the employee’s becoming entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both), the employer must notify the Plan Administrator of the qualifying event.

If you experience other qualifying events (divorce or legal separation of the employee and spouse or a dependent child losing eligibility for coverage as a dependent child) you must notify the Plan Administrator in writing within 60 days of the qualifying event or the date coverage is lost, whichever is later. The written notice must be provided to: The University of North Georgia, Department of Human Resources, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega, Georgia 30597

If your termination is due to “gross misconduct” the employer will not offer you or your enrolled family member COBRA continuation coverage. An employment termination due to gross misconduct is not a COBRA qualifying event.

How is COBRA Coverage Provided?

Once the Plan Administrator receives notice that a qualifying event has occurred; COBRA continuation coverage will be offered to each of the qualified beneficiaries. Each qualified beneficiary will have an independent right to elect COBRA continuation coverage. Covered employees may elect COBRA continuation coverage on behalf of their spouses, and parents may elect COBRA continuation coverage on behalf of their children.

COBRA continuation coverage is temporary continuation coverage. When the qualifying event is the death of the employee, the employee becoming entitled to Medicare benefits( under Part A, Part B, or both), the employee’s divorce or legal separation, or a dependent child’s losing eligibility as a dependent child, COBRA continuation coverage lasts for up to a total of 36 months. When the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee’s hours of employment, and the employee became entitled to Medicare benefits less than 18 months before the qualifying event, COBRA continuation coverage for qualified beneficiaries other than the employee lasts until 36 months after the date of Medicare entitlement. For example, if a covered employee becomes entitled to Medicare 8 months before the date on which his employment terminates, COBRA continuation coverage for his spouse and children can last up to 36 months after the date of Medicare entitlement, which is equal to 28 months after the date of the qualifying event (36 months minus 8 months). Otherwise, when the 3 qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee’s hours of employment, COBRA continuation coverage generally lasts for up to a total of 18 months. There are two ways in which this 18-month period of COBRA continuation can be extended:

    1. Disability extension of 18-month period of continuation coverage
      If you or anyone in your family covered under the Plan is determined by the Social Security Administration to be disabled and you notify the Plan Administrator in a timely fashion, you and your entire family may be entitled to receive up to an additional 11 months of COBRA continuation coverage, for a total maximum of 29 months. The disability would have to have started at some time before the 60th day of COBRA continuation coverage and must last at least until the end of the 18-month period of continuation coverage.
    2. Second qualifying event extension of 18-month period of continuation coverage
      If your family experiences another qualifying event while receiving 18 months of COBRA continuation coverage, the spouse and dependent children in your family can get up to 18 additional months of COBRA continuation coverage, for a maximum of 36 months, if notice of the second qualifying event is properly give to the Plan Administrator. This extension may be available to the spouse and any dependent children receiving continuation coverage if the employee or former employee dies, becomes eligible for Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both), or gets divorced or legally separated, or if the dependent child stops being eligible under the Plan as a dependent child, but only if the event would have caused the spouse or dependent child to lose coverage under the Plan had the first qualifying event not occurred.

Keep Your Plan Informed of Address Changes

In order to protect your family’s rights, you should keep the Plan Administrator informed of any changes in the addresses of family members. You should also keep a copy, for your records, of any notices you send the Plan Administrator.

If You Have Questions

Questions concerning your Plan or your Cobra continuation coverage rights should be addressed to:

The University of North Georgia
Department of Human Resources
82 College Circle
Dahlonega, Ga. 30597
706-864-1440

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