The use of nurse practitioners and other non-physician health care professionals is a cost-effective means of providing health care services. Since NPs, PAs, CNMs and others provide services comparable to physicians, their use in ambulatory care settings can also significantly increase the availability and accessibility to health care services, especially to low-income individuals and those requiring services in areas of physician shortage. While current obstacles such as reimbursement policies, legislative restrictions and prescriptive authority limit the use and effectiveness of non-physician health care providers, more physicians, hospitals, clinics, HMOs and public health care systems will view their use as a means of containing escalating health care costs. To the patient this will mean an increase in the availability of comprehensive health care services and the prevention and early detection of medical problems through wellness care. A discussion is presented regarding the ways in which use of NPs and other non-physician professionals can reduce costs and increase the quality and availability of health care services.