Just nine months after Amazon began offering Prime discounts to people with electronic benefit transfer cards, they made another announcement to induce lower income shoppers to spend money on their site.
Starting on Wednesday, Amazon is offering Prime membership to Medicaid recipients at $5.99 per month, a discount which is $27 cheaper than the annual Prime rate of $99.
At the end of 2017, more than 68 million Americans were enrolled in Medicaid, a joint healthcare program that assists low-income families or individuals to pay for long-term medical and custodial care costs. With estimates indicating that the majority of low-income spending occurs at Walmart, this push provides Amazon the flexibility to compete with the retail giant in less affluent markets, and increases its reach to households without access to financial services.
To be eligible for the Prime discount, customers must have either a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer or Medicaid card. No annual commitment will be required, and members can qualify for this discount for up to four years.
Shipping over 5 billion items last year, Prime offers benefits such as faster shipping on certain items including music and video streaming platforms, and a food shipping service to members.
Although considered a possible blessing for low-income Americans, the healthcare community is less than enthused, concerned that this move may be an exploratory prelude on Amazon’s part to sell and/or distribute pharmaceuticals and medical devices and supplies.