"If you're at the high end of that spectrum,you may have a need to make more aggressive change faster than others in that industry," Abbott said.
Focus on cutting costs
One of the areas where large employers are cutting back is on spousal coverage. Nearly half of those surveyed made employees pay more of the cost to insure their spouses in 2014, while a quarter of the firms added a monthly surcharge to cover spouses who can get insurance through their own jobs.
Firms have also increased their offerings of more consumer-oriented, high-deductible plans, while also shifting more of the overall costs of insurance to their employees.
Executives are also eyeing cost-containment trends from the new private health insurance exchanges from leading providers including Towers Watson, Aon Hewitt and Mercer, a unit of Marsh & McClellan.
(Read more: Hospital cuts out the middleman and sees success)
Aon Hewitt's corporate health exchange is now entering its second year of operation, serving 600,000 employees from companies that include Darden Restaurants, Sears and Walgreen.
The average cost for employers renewing on the Aon Hewitt exchange in 2014 rose just over 5 percent in 2014, including new Obamacare fees. That compares to an average of 6 percent to 7 percent increase for most major employers, according to industry estimates.
"The savings are due to competition," said Ken Sperling, Aon Hewitt's health exchange strategy leader. "Wherever you look at a retail market place, when you have competition, prices go down."
Analysts are predicting that by 2018 enrollment on the private exchanges will be even higher than enrollment on the public Obamacare exchanges, in part because of the looming Cadillac Tax.
"No employer wants to hit the excise tax," Abbott said. "Between now and 2018, they are going either to have to aggressively manage their self-managed plan to stay below the threshold, or they're going to look to buy a solution from a private exchange."
—By CNBC's Bertha Coombs. Follow her on Twitter