Yesterday, HHS insisted that consumers who want are forced to buy health insurance through the federal exchange could work around the web site, which hasn’t worked properly since its launch.  Tell that to John Tankersley, an Indiana stay-at-home dad who has tried for more than two weeks to navigate the system to buy badly-needed coverage for his family, as his wife doesn’t get health insurance from her job.  He tried the call center, too — only to find that they can’t figure out how to enroll people, either:

In the meantime, John Tankersley tried to sign up by phone.

“And they were having the same frustrations,” he said. “If they have to go back and edit something they have to start all over again.”

In part, that may be because no one’s quite sure what anything means. Tankersley tried to register his dependent children on the site, but couldn’t figure out in which category they belonged:

He soon learned that every time he answered a question it prompted a 10 to 30 second delay.

Some of his answers didn’t compute. Some of the questions he didn’t understand, including one about his children.

“Is their relationship also any of these relationships?” he said reading from the website. “And it has something called collateral dependent. I have never heard that phrase before.”

All told, Tankersley has spent 25 hours trying to navigate both on-line and call-center systems. His family still doesn’t have health insurance. What took a couple of hours at most before this year has now turned into a journey relatively equivalent to Homer’s Odyssey, thanks to the federal government takeover of what had been a private transaction between consumer and insurers, regulated by the states.

This is indeed Big Government’s signature moment.

Addendum: Yes, I had some fun with the headline. So sue me.