(Amazon doesn't disclose its number of Prime subscribers.) Amazon's decision Wednesday to more than double the size of potential customers for discounted Prime could significantly help it in that goal.
Amazon.com (amzn) is adding a discount on Prime membership for Medicaid recipients in its latest move to win more business from lower-income shoppers at Walmart's (wmt) expense. This follows a previous outreach effort aimed at those with cards used in other public assistance programs. EBT stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer, and these debit cards are the primary way that recipients of SNAP - otherwise known as food stamps - get their benefits.
The new Prime discount is clearly intended as a way for Amazon to expand its shopper base. But it's not altruism; Amazon Prime has been widely adopted by middle-class and well-off Americans, so if the membership program is going to continue to grow in the US, the company has to figure out how to attract other demographics. The service counts tens of millions of Americans among its customers (the program is used by nearly half of USA households by to some estimates.) It has made Amazon's e-commerce site even stickier among members, who ramp up use as they look to get their money's worth.
The service, which offers members special deals, fast shipping, free streaming, and many other perks, costs $12.99 per month or $99 per year. About 30 million American adults receive federal food assistance. Eligible shoppers need to reapply once a year and are eligible for up to four years. There is no annual commitment and customers can cancel the membership at any time. More than 74 million Americans - or more than 20% of the population - were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as of the end of 2017.
Those who want to qualify for the discount will be asked to apply and upload a photo of their Medicaid card.