Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), today kicked off the health insurance trade group’s annual meeting, Institute 2012, by warning attendees that would have to stay in a state of suspense.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not post its decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) this morning, as some had hoped it might, and AHIP members will likely be waiting at least until Monday, and possibly until next Thursday, to see the ruling, which could help, block or reshape PPACA implementations in ways that will affect the insurers’ operations for decades to come.

Several attendees tweeted enthusiastically about how much they enjoyed a panel discussion on the fall elections featuring former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Clinton administration advisor Paul Begala.

But election watchers will not have any clear idea of how to think about the races, let alone what the results might be, until the Supreme Court rules on PPACA.

PPACA also dominated the Institute 2011 meeting, which took place in San Francisco and attracted protesters who threw pink glitter

AHIP, Washington, is holding this year’s meeting in Salt Lake City, and some of the 3,000 or so attendees might soothe themselves by going to take a look at Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

Dr. Norman Gordon of Alere Inc., Atlanta, is at the meeting to talk about the need for plans to do a better job of connecting with patients to improve the quality of their care and lower the cost, under any set of regulatory rules.

Lindsay Resnick, chief arketing officer for health services at KBM Group, Richardson, Texas, a health marketing data analysis firm, is in Salt Lake City to discuss the need for health insurers to do a better job of reaching out to and attracting individual health insurance customers no matter what happens with PPACA.

The exhibitors on the floor are trying to help the attendees there maintain a positive mental attitude by promoting freebies.

The education arm of AHIP is giving away gift cards to attendees who watch course demos.

Another exhibitor, a health plan technology company, is promising martinis.

Still other vendors are sponsoring the provision of calming (if not necessarily wellness-oriented) reception goodies such as smoothies, ice cream, cupcakes and margaritas.

SAP Americas is helping attendees work off the effects of some of the other sponsors’ offerings by organizing a “pedometer challenge.”

Connecture Inc., Waukesha, Wis. — a health insurance sales system company that could be one of the providers of the technology needed to get exchanges up and running — kept attendees from jumping out of their skins by polling them.

About 56% of the Connecture survey participants expect most health insurance to be sold through exchanges within 5 years, and about one-third of the participants expect the major exchanges to be government-run exchanges.

Even more of the participants — 61% — said they believe President Obama will benefit more from whatever the Supreme Court says about PPACA than Mitt Romney will. 

Only 4% of the executives said the U.S. health care system is on the right track; 49% said unhealthy living habits are most responsible for increasing health care costs, 20% blamed health care providers, and 16% blamed government regulations.