For the 2.1 million people who’ve signed up for health insurance under the new federal and state exchanges, Jan. 1 is when the rubber meets the road. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called it “an exciting new day in health care” as latest enrollment figures were released Tuesday.

But for people like the Schulz family of Phoenix, Ariz., Rita Rizzo and Lou Vincent of Akron, Ohio, and Joyce Moore of Zionsville, Pa., it’s the first test of whether Obamacare will really work. They all say they’re relieved and excited to finally have new access to health care, and they hope that the rocky rollout of the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act will actually give way to the smooth delivery of vital medical services.

“I’ve been afraid for the last three years to get preventive care, because if they found something, I couldn’t afford to treat it,” said Rizzo, 59, who runs a management training business with her husband. “I haven’t had any blood work in three years and my right hip is starting to give out.” But now that she and Vincent, 64, are covered by a new CareSource silver-level plan under the federal exchange, he’s insured for the first time in years after being denied by dozens of private plans because he has high blood pressure and diabetes.

And Rizzo said they’ll pay $184 a month, with a $2,000 deductible and a maximum of $3,400 out of pocket, far less than the $400 a month and $6,000 deductible they were paying for her alone with a private plan.