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

The budget-friendly version of the Amazon Prime service will cost $5.99 per month, about half the cost of the standard membership fee. The discounted membership will offer recipients the full range of perks offered to Prime members.

Amazon Amazon is launching a low-cost version of Amazon Prime for Medicaid recipients. Photo: iphonedigital/Flickr

In order to qualify for the discounted rate, Amazon shoppers will have to provide the e-commerce giant with a valid Medicaid card or otherwise prove their status as a recipient of the government-provided health insurance program for low-income households.

Prior to expanding to Medicaid recipients, Amazon made the discounted version of Prime available to customers with a valid EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card. Such cards are typically made available to U.S. residents who receive funds from government assistance programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).

Through the discounted Prime membership, subscribers gain access to free, two-day shipping on many products sold through Amazon; Prime Video, the company’s streaming video platform; Prime Music for streaming music; Prime Photos; Prime Reading; Prime Now; Audible Channels and other features.

Expanding access for lower-income households to affordable products is likely to benefit Medicaid recipients who may otherwise have limited access to the goods and services they need.

According to the most recent data provided by the U.S. government, there were about 68.5 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid as of December. Nearly half of those recipients are under the age of 19. The majority of the remaining recipients are either 65 or older, disabled or working part or full time.

The discounted Prime membership is the latest effort from Amazon to expand its service to low-income families and individuals. The online retailer also recently announced it was participating in a program led by the Department of Agriculture that will allow SNAP recipients to purchase groceries online.

Amazon has come under fire in the past for failing to accept EBT services. The company’s experimental, cashier-less Amazon Go stores were knocked by critics for failing to accept SNAP.

Amazon’s blind spot for low-income users has been a benefit to some of its largest competitors who have managed to offer services to recipients of government assistance. The Wall Street Journal reported that retail giant Walmart generated $13 billion in sales from shoppers using SNAP in 2016. That accounted for about 18 percent of money spent through the program nationwide.