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Health insurance glossary A-Z

Understanding private healthcare, or health insurance, can be tricky, which is why we've compiled this A-Z glossary

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Health insurance glossary A-Z
Health insurance glossary A-Z

Health insurance can be an unfamiliar product compared to car or home insurance. We aim to make comparing health insurance as simple as possible and provide clear, accurate information on private medical insurance terminology.

Please read our list of key terms below to further your understanding of health insurance. If you would like more information from a product specialist or have any questions, call free on 0800 862 0360*.

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Health insurance A-Z

See below for a list of conditions and specific private healthcare terms explained, so when it's time to compare health insurance policies, you know what you're getting.

Acute condition

An illness or injury that is diagnosed as curable based on the assumption that any subsequent medical treatment will restore you to full health.

Annual renewal

The anniversary of the day you began your policy on which your insurance is due for renewal. Before your renewal Uswitch can undertake a full market review to ensure you are still getting the best policy for your budget and needs.

Chronic condition                              

An illness or disease that is diagnosed as requiring ongoing treatment or management, continues indefinitely or has no known cure. Some health insurance policies may help stabilise a chronic condition but not manage it continually.


A request to your insurer for payment for medical expenses in accordance with your insurance policy.


An initiative designed to reduce the cost of your health insurance policy where you agree to pay a percentage of any claim.

CT scan                                                       

A medical diagnostic tool to take detailed internal images of body structures using a rotating x-ray beam.


A patient who is admitted to hospital or a medical centre for treatment but is not required to stay overnight.

Diagnostic tests                                   

A series of investigations such as CT scans, MRI scans, blood tests and x-rays to determine the cause of health symptoms.


A method of reducing the cost of your health insurance by agreeing to pay a set amount of money towards any claim.


Anything that is not covered in your health insurance policy, for example medical treatment for injuries or illnesses sustained from drug abuse.

General Practitioner                    

A doctor who is on the GP register of the General Medical Council and has a Licence to Practise. In non-emergency cases your GP is the first person to see regarding your symptoms.

Full medical underwriting (FMU)               

A policy that is underwritten based on evidence regarding your medical history whereby any pre-existing conditions can be excluded.


Any patient who is admitted for treatment and is required to stay in hospital for one night or longer.


An insurance policy without medical disclosure. Typically any conditions you have had in the past five years will be excluded. However you can regain cover for these conditions if you remain symptom, treatment, advice and medication-free in the first two years of your policy.

MRI scan                                                                     

A medical tool used to diagnose symptoms by using magnets and radio frequency waves to capture cross sectional images of the body.


Any patient who is admitted to hospital but not classed as a day-patient or in-patient. Usually refers to diagnosis or treatment as opposed to day surgery.


A contract of insurance between you and your insurer.

Pre-existing conditions                                    

Any injuries, illnesses or diseases that you have previously suffered from, sought advice or diagnostics about or received treatment for.


The amount of money paid to your insurer in order to be covered for private healthcare.

Six-week wait                                                          

A process which can reduce your insurance premiums by opting to agree that if you can be treated by the NHS in six weeks you will be. If you are not treated within six weeks by the NHS you will be treated privately.


A process of moving insurers but keeping the same underwriting as the original policy. You can remain covered for conditions that arose since taking out your original policy.


Any medical diagnostics, surgery or services that are needed to relieve or cure an injury or illness.

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Find health insurance cover from leading providers with Uswitch*

*Based on a treatment and full diagnosis level of cover for a 30-year-old non-smoking male with no pre-existing medical conditions (March 2023)