The online retail giant said Wednesday that it will extend its $5.99 monthly Prime membership to the roughly 20% of the US population that is signed up for Medicaid.
Amazon Prime is a great service for anyone who regularly does their shopping online, but at $11 a month or $99 per year (if you're willing to drop that much all at once), it can be an expensive extra.
According to government data, some 68 million individuals are enrolled in Medicaid, the federal-state-funded health insurance program for needy and low-income people. The Amazon Prime membership gives shoppers perks such as free two-day shipping on millions of products, free photo storage and online streaming of thousands of movies and music.
Amazon has been offering the same discount to Electronic Benefits Transfer cardholders since June. The deal for Medicaid recipients is widely being portrayed as Amazon's strategy for "taking aim at Walmart" by wooing away low-income shoppers.
Amazon Prime's core customers have typically been middle- and upper-class shoppers.
Inc. declined to say how many people signed up for Prime under the EBT card expansion, but Aaron Perrine, who oversees the program, says those that did sign up kept the service and were engaged Prime users. After a 6-month free trial, students pay $6.49 a month or $49 a year for Prime. In a similar effort, Amazon previous year also introduced Amazon Cash, a way to help people without bank accounts load money into their Amazon accounts.
Customers will need to renew their membership every year and the lower rate will only be available for four years for each customer. But customers won't be able to share their Prime membership with a second adult, as with a regularly priced Prime membership. He said Prime has helped save her time and money by helping her skip some of those errands.
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