All HCCI Reports
HCCI’s original reports powered by #HCCIdata

Love is Expensive; So is a Trip to the Emergency Room


Valentine's Day – known for romantic candlelit dinners, lavish jewelry, and red roses – is pricey. Indeed, the National Retail Federation's Annual Valentine's Day Spending Survey suggests that an individual spends an average of $175 on these gifts each year. However, data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that the cost of love may be even greater, as more than 300 emergency room visits occurred from Valentine's-related gifts in 2018.

We compared annual per person ER spending versus per person spending on Valentine's Day gifts, finding that, between 2016 and 2019, per person ER spending is on average $42 higher than the combined cost of romantic presents. (Figure 1)

       Figure 1: Per Person ER Spending vs Valentine's Day Spending Over Time

We further explored state variation in the difference between per person ER spending and per person Valentine's Day spending. We find that if you live in Texas, Colorado, Alaska, or Nevada, you might end up paying over $200 more for an ER visit than a Valentine's Day gift. If you live in California, Hawaii, or Arkansas, your Valentine's date might be more expensive than your ER visit! (Figure 2)

Figure 2: How much does per person spending in ER exceed Valentine's Day spending? 

No matter where you live, we wish you a happy Valentine's Day. Keep yourself happy and healthy!

Methods Note

Spending on ER is calculated as the average per person spending on ER E&M CPT codes (99281 – 99285) for people with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) and ages 0-64. Average annual ER per person spending is calculated by summing all dollars directly spent on these five ER E&M codes in each year and dividing that amount by the average number of people with ESI (total months of ESI coverage divided by 12). It is not the same as out-of-pocket spending, which is determined by the payments per person paid by patients for health care services (defined as the sum of deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance amounts). We used the downloadable data from "Ouch!: New Data reveals ER spending increased by 51% from 2012 – 2019, with patient out of pocket payments increasing by 85%" for both figures: Figure 1 uses national spending data from 2016 to 2019, Figure 2 uses state level spending data for 2019. Please see the Report and Methods note document on the HCCI website for more information about the data and methods.

Annual Valentine's Day spending data is from National Retail Federation (NRF)'s Valentine's Day study, state-based data gathered from a study by and published in Vox in 2016.

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.