UnitedHealth's financial power is growing. Photo: UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group registered more than $6.6 billion in profits in the second quarter — by far the conglomerate's highest quarterly profit ever, according to an analysis of company financial data from FactSet.

Why it matters: Most companies struggled in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic froze the economy, but health insurers like UnitedHealth heavily benefited as people held off on going to the doctor or hospital, resulting in fewer medical claims that needed to be paid.

The big picture: The jump in profits exceeded Wall Street's predictions, and was heavily driven by UnitedHealth's insurance division.

  • The operating margin in the second quarter for UnitedHealthcare was 14.3% vs. 6.8% for Optum, which is the division of the company that runs doctors' practices, technology, consulting and pharmacy benefits.

Zoom in: UnitedHealth's "medical loss ratio" in the quarter was 70.2% compared with 83.1% during the same time last year — meaning UnitedHealth paid out just 70 cents in medical claims for every dollar it received in premiums.

Yes, but: The company expects that ratio will rise later this year as more people get the care they delayed. UnitedHealth also said some of its commercial employers cut coverage for workers due to the pandemic, which affected its revenue.

Go deeper: UnitedHealth's political and financial heft just keeps growing

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The Philippines' economy sunk into recession as its gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter — marking the lowest reading since 1981, official figures show.

The big picture: Millions of Filipinos went on lockdown Tuesday as cases surged past 106,300, with stay-at-home orders in place for two weeks in Manila and nearby provinces on the island of Luzon, per the BBC. The economy's contraction is the "deepest" on record, Bloomberg notes.

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Nurses rally nationwide to demand protection amid pandemic

Healthcare workers on their way to work walk past demonstrators taking part in a national day of action in Miami on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nurses took more than 200 active demonstrations inside and outside U.S. hospital facilities in at least 16 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday to demand full personal protective equipment and federal government action.

Driving the news: National Nurses United (NNU) members are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, House Democrats' $3 trillion pandemic recovery package, which they said would protect health care workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act.

GOP senator says stimulus needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-19 as possible

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said at an Axios virtual event Wednesday that the next coronavirus relief package needs to be as "narrowly focused" on COVID-specific issues as possible in order to resolve the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Why it matters: Democrats and negotiators from the Trump administration remain far apart on a deal for the next tranche of relief. The fraught negotiations come as millions of Americans continue to suffer from the health and economic effects of the pandemic without the unemployment benefits from the first stimulus bill.