J. Pat Carter / AP

UnitedHealth Group soundly blew past Wall Street's second-quarter financial expectations. Profit in the quarter jumped 34% year over year to nearly $2.4 billion, and revenue increased 8% to $50 billion, the company announced in today's earnings report. Executives were most excited about the Medicare Advantage business — which just extended its lucrative branding deal with AARP and is UnitedHealth's largest individual insurance segment, but also faces fraud allegations.

Between the lines: Expect similarly robust results from other large health insurers. Fewer people are going to the hospital or filling their drug prescriptions, which means more money stays in the pocket of insurers like UnitedHealth. But that's not necessarily translating to lower insurance premiums.

Go deeper: UnitedHealth is just as much a services company through Optum as it is an insurer. Its tentacles could stretch even further over the health care system if it acquires Advisory Board Company, a consulting firm that works a lot with hospitals.

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The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

3 hours ago - World

Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

3 hours ago - Sports

The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.