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2019 Elite Marketplace of Champions: Grace & Porta Benefits’ Individual Department

Jonathan Frantti is Grace & Porta’s benefit consultant for the individual market, and Barb Barnes is the client advocate for this department. Barnes and Frantti recently qualified for the 2019 Elite Marketplace Circle of Champions. And for that, we thought they deserved a little recognition. 

Benefit Consultant Jonathan Frantti, an avid hockey fan and award-winning chili maker (two years’ consecutive Grace & Porta Benefits Chili Cook-Off champion) from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has worked in insurance for 19 years. He spent 16 years at insurance carrier Unum, his last five as a senior sales coordinator there, before coming to Grace & Porta in 2016.

“My favorite thing about Grace & Porta is the amazing group of people I work with every day,” Frantti said.

Client Advocate Barb Barnes, a self-proclaimed Halloween fanatic, has assisted various benefit consultants in Grace & Porta’s individual department for five years now, but she thinks she and Frantti make an especially good team.

“Jon’s patient. We have a good rapport,” she said.

The Marketplace is the government-sponsored online health insurance exchange, and it came into effect in October of 2013 as a result of then President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And while Barnes and Frantti had more than 100 clients who purchased Marketplace coverage in the last year (a minimum of 100 qualified them for elite status), there were more that didn’t.

“I’d say 60 percent of our clients are off-market. Forty percent use the Marketplace,” Barnes said.

Off-market – purchasing coverage directly from the insurance carrier instead of going to the Marketplace – is for those clients who do not qualify for government-subsidized health plans.

“I encourage people to utilize the Marketplace if they qualify,” Frantti said. “You can get the same plans there that you’ll find off-market; it’s just that you may be eligible for a cost-sharing plan on the Marketplace depending on your household income and number of dependents.”

One of the downsides of having Marketplace coverage is that lines of communication often get crossed. The Marketplace acts a middleman between the insurance carrier and the client.

“The Marketplace sends too many emails,” Barnes said. “A client will receive an email that says they haven’t paid their bill for that month when they have. I tell them just to ignore it.”

Whatever the nature of your insurance woes, Barnes and Frantti are confident they can help.

“We can always help in determining the best plan for people,” Frantti said.

Helping clients select the best coverage for their finances and families is what Barnes and Frantti find most rewarding about their jobs.

Occasionally, Frantti will advise clients with a high-deductible health plan to purchase critical illness coverage. One client who had purchased a bronze plan (lower premium, higher deductible) listened to this advice about a year ago and benefitted tremendously.

“I told him, ‘It might be a good idea, since you have this high deductible – in case something happens – to purchase $10,000 in critical illness coverage,’” Frantti said. “It’s inexpensive and can mitigate exposure with a high deductible.”

Critical illness coverage pays a lump sum to the insured in the case of certain ailments or illnesses, like a heart attack, stroke, or a cancer diagnosis.

“A couple months after we met, he called me so thankful. His wife was diagnosed with cancer – she’s fine now – and the critical illness policy had more than covered their deductible,” Frantti said.

Today marks the beginning of individual open enrollment season for coverage for 2020. Open enrollment runs through December 15. It is the only time of the year in which individuals looking for coverage can enroll, unless they have a qualifying event (i.e. marriage, loss of other coverage, etc.).

Barnes’ and Frantti’s message to those who are looking for coverage is: Don’t wait until the last minute!

“Call us and we can help determine the best route for you to take, either on or off the market,” Frantti said.

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