It’s the company’s latest move to court lower-income shoppers.
Amazon is making another move in its courtship of lower-income shoppers, announcing a discount on its Amazon Prime monthly membership fee for recipients of Medicaid. The discount works out to 54 percent.
Under the offer, customers on Medicaid can get Amazon Prime for $ 5.99 a month, or $ 7 less than the new regular monthly fee of $ 12.99. In June, Amazon first introduced this discounted price for shoppers who receive government assistance in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card.
The goal of these discounts, according to Amazon executive Aaron Perrine, is to give more people access to “aspects of the digital economy — some conveniences and benefits — that I think a lot of us take for granted.”
An Amazon Prime membership includes perks such as two-day shipping on more than 100 million products, unlimited photo storage and free online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime customers typically spend more and buy more frequently on Amazon than non-members do.
With the moves, Amazon is increasingly battling Walmart and other low-priced retailers for the wallets of those with less disposable income. 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 U.S., the company has to figure out how to attract other demographics.
Medicaid is the government program that helps provide health coverage for many low-income families and disabled individuals. Medicare, which isn’t part of this discount program, guarantees health coverage for those 65 or older.
The discounted membership price works out to about $ 72 for 12 months. The cheapest Prime membership for those Amazon customers who do not receive government assistance is $ 99 for a full year.
Those who want to qualify for the discount will be asked to apply and upload a photo of their Medicaid card. Eligible shoppers need to reapply once a year and are eligible for up to four years.
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Start With the Finnish
Earlier this year, Finland launched a pilot program to test a universal basic income (UBI) policy by giving 2,000 of its citizens €560 ($ 624) every month for two years.
This program is dramatically different from traditional safety net systems. The payments are completely unconditional, and recipients can spend the money however they want. They are not required to prove they are actively looking for work, and even if they find employment, they will not lose their income from the UBI program.
Five months into the program, organizers are starting to see some promising results. One participant in the program told The Economist that he is now actively seeking work and feels less stressed. Of course, this one anecdotal example cannot speak for the whole of the program, which is still in its infancy, but it is encouraging.
Some programs, such as GiveDirectly’s trial in Kenya, are being spearheaded by nonprofits. Others are being undertaken by corporations, such as Y Combinator’s plan to give a basic income of between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 a month to participants in Oakland, California.
As is the case in Finland, governments are also testing the waters of UBI. At the end of last year, the government of Prince Edward Island unanimously voted to work with the Canadian government to establish a pilot UBI program, and India is currently exploring the possibility of such a system as well.
Not only could UBI replace the income lost as automated systems continue to replace human workers, experts also believe that having such a safety net would spur more innovation as the fear of failure would be reduced. People equipped with the knowledge that they will be able to provide for themselves should they fail will be more willing to take bigger risks, which could result in a spike in innovation that would help us all.
The post Finland’s Universal Basic Income Program Is Already Reducing Stress for Recipients appeared first on Futurism.
This years’ Apple Design Awards recipients spanned the globe, ranging from novel games designed by a single developer to larger productions developed across a staff of full time coders and artists.
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