Amazon is offering discounted Prime to Medicaid recipients

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Amazon announced Wednesday that it will offer a low-priced version of its Amazon Prime membership program to qualifying Medicaid recipients.

Last summer, Amazon began offering a discount rate of $5.99 per month for Prime memberships to customers receiving government assistance.

Besides unlimited, fast free shipping, a Prime membership gives you unlimited access to Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Reading, unlimited photo storage via Prime Photos, discounts on games, early access to Amazon's Lightning Deals, and special discounts at Whole Foods. Amazon doesn't say how many Prime customers it has, but market research company Forrester Research says that the majority of American households with annual income over $100,000 already pay for a Prime subscription.

The New York Times says the move expands a previous Amazon effort started a year ago, when it offered Prime discounts to people with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, used to distribute aid for food purchases. Customers can qualify for the program every 12 months up to four times, and Amazon has said it plans to add other ways for people on assistance to qualify in the future.

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Amazon is slashing the price of its Prime Membership for lower-income Americans. (Monthly subscriptions cost $12.99 a month after a price increase in January). The retailer took in 18% of all food stamps several years ago.

With the moves, Amazon is increasingly battling Walmart and other low-cost retailers for the wallets of those with less disposable income. (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.

On an annual basis, savings stack up to a 27 percent discount from Amazon's $99-a-year regular freight in the U.S.

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