General Notice of COBRA Rights

GENERAL NOTICE OF COBRA CONTINUATION COVERAGE RIGHTS

Introduction

You are receiving this notice because you have recently become covered under the Pearson Inc. Welfare Benefit Plan (the “Plan”). This notice contains important information about your right to COBRA continuation coverage, which is a temporary extension of coverage under the Plan. This notice 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.  When you become eligible for COBRA, you may also become eligible for other coverage options that may cost less than COBRA continuation coverage.

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 and other members of your family when group health coverage would otherwise end.  For additional information about your rights and obligations under the Plan and under federal law, you should review the Plan’s Summary Plan Description or contact the Plan Administrator.

What is COBRA Continuation Coverage?

COBRA continuation coverage is a continuation of group health coverage under the Plan when such coverage would otherwise end because of a life event, known for purposes of COBRA 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 such coverage.

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

  • Your hours of employment are reduced, or
  • Your employment ends for any reason other than your gross misconduct.

If you are the spouse of an employee, you will become a qualified beneficiary if you lose your group health coverage under the Plan because 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.

Your dependent children will become qualified beneficiaries if they lose group health 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 employment ends for any reason other than his or her gross misconduct;
  • The parent-employee becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (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.”

When is COBRA Coverage Available?

The Plan will offer COBRA continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries only after Benefits Concepts, the firm that the Plan Administrator has hired to administer COBRA benefits (the “COBRA 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, or the employee’s becoming entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both), the Plan Administrator must notify the COBRA Administrator of the qualifying event.

You Must Give Notice of Some Qualifying Events

For all other qualifying events (divorce or legal separation of the employee and spouse or a dependent child’s losing eligibility for coverage as a dependent child), you must notify the appropriate party within 60 days after the qualifying event occurs. If you are an active employee, you must provide this notice to your local HR/Benefits Representative. If you are already receiving continuation coverage you must provide this notice to the COBRA Administrator – Mercer Marketplace, PO Box 2280, Omaha, NE 68103-2280. The telephone number for the COBRA Administrator is (877) 248-0510.

How is COBRA Coverage Provided?

Once the COBRA 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 a temporary continuation of coverage. When the qualifying event is the death of the employee, the employee’s becoming entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both), your 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 eight 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 eight months). Otherwise, when the qualifying event is the end of employment or reduction of the employee’s hours of employment, COBRA continuation coverage generally lasts for only up to a total of 18 months. There are two ways in which this 18-month period of COBRA continuation coverage can be extended.

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 COBRA 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.

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 total maximum of 36 months, if the Plan is properly notified of the second qualifying event. This extension may be available to the spouse and any dependent children receiving continuation coverage if the employee or former employee dies, becomes entitled to 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.

Are there other coverage options besides COBRA Continuation Coverage?

Yes.  Instead of enrolling in continuation coverage, there may be other coverage options for you and your family through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or other group health plan coverage options (such as a spouse’s plan) through what is called a “special enrollment period.”  Some of these options may cost less than continuation coverage.  You can learn more about many of these options at www.healthcare.gov.

Can I enroll in Medicare instead of COBRA continuation coverage after my group health plan coverage ends?

In general, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part A or B when you are first eligible because you are still employed, after the Medicare initial enrollment period, you have an 8-month special enrollment period[1] to sign up for Medicare Part A or B, beginning on the earlier of (i) the month after your employment ends; or (ii) the month after group health coverage under the Plan based on current employment ends.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare and elect continuation coverage instead, you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later. If you elect continuation coverage and later enroll in Medicare Part A or B before the continuation coverage ends, the Plan may terminate your continuation coverage.  However, if Medicare Part A or B is effective on or before the date of the COBRA election, continuation coverage may not be discontinued on account of Medicare entitlement, even if you enroll in the other part of Medicare after the date of the COBRA election.

If you are enrolled in both continuation coverage and Medicare, Medicare will generally pay first (primary payer) and continuation coverage will pay second. Certain plans may pay as if secondary to Medicare, even if you are not enrolled in Medicare.

For more information visit https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-and-you.

If You Have Questions

Questions concerning the Plan or your COBRA continuation coverage rights should be addressed to the contact or contacts identified below. For more information about your rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including COBRA, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,  and other laws affecting group health plans, contact the nearest Regional or District Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) in your area or visit www.dol.gov/ebsa. (Addresses and phone numbers of Regional and District EBSA Offices are available through EBSA’s website.)  For more information about the Marketplace, visit www.HealthCare.gov.

Keep Your Plan Informed of Address Changes

To protect your family’s rights, let the Plan Administrator know about any changes in the addresses of family members. You should also keep a copy, for your records, of any notices you send to the Plan Administrator or the COBRA Administrator.

Plan Contact Information

Pearson People Services (PPS) via myHR (Ask HR a Question) or call 1-877-311-0948 or send an email to [email protected], or write to Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030.